Team Edward is winning. But for how long?
From Twilight to High School Musical 3: Senior Year to the Hannah Montana concert movie, teen and tween girls have wielded considerable power at the box office this year. The broader female market also made blockbusters of Sex and the City and Mamma Mia!
But if you think Hollywood is ready to build on—read: imitate—these hits with more movies aimed at fanggirls and their sisters, think again.
"If the industry at large wasn't completely taken aback by the success of Twilight and Sex and the City," says Karina Longworth, editor of the film blog, SpoutBlog, "then at the very least, I don't think they were prepared to capitalize on those successes."
Film.com's Eric D. Snider, who last spring warned smug fanboys to take Twilight seriously, says no matter how many times a chick flick hits, Hollywood is surprised—"as if they've never heard of this strange niche demographic known as women before."
"Then they get all excited about making more movies for women, and then they forget all about it and go back to making movies about giant robots," Snider says.
Is it possible they've already forgotten?
Looking at the 2009 movie schedule, Snider says he doesn't see an "obvious slam dunk" for the female market, outside of the Hannah Montana comedy, Hannah Montana: The Movie, set for April.
Longworth likewise isn't bullish. She reminds that 2008's femme hits were built on familiar brand names—the Stephenie Meyer Twilight books, the HSM Disney Channel franchise, the Sex and the City HBO series, etc. "Looking at the release schedule for the next six months," she says, "there really isn't a surplus of other projects in the pipeline with the same kind of female-centric brand recognition."
And, according to Longworth, that means, you, Anne Hathaway's and Kate Hudson's Bride Wars, and Jennifer Aniston's He's Just Not That Into You.
Youth marketing expert Tina Wells of Buzz Marketing Group thinks tween girls, in the short run, are going to be loading up more on DVDs—the straight-to-video comedy The Clique, the due-out-next-week The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian—than movie tickets.
"Right now," Wells says, "the only movie coming up that looks like it'll be a hit with tweens is the upcoming Emma Roberts film, Hotel for Dogs." (Wells, Longworth and Snider all responded to questions via email.)
But if you think that nothing has changed, that girls will always take a distant second in Hollywood's hearts to boys, then the studio behind Twilight, for one, doesn't agree.
"There's nothing like the power of the box office," Summit Entertainment distribution president Richie Fay said last weekend. "…There's a segment out there that probably hasn't been given their fair due, and now certainly you're going to find creative folks out there [looking at more female-driven properties.]"
Summit's looking at a few of those itself. They're called the prospective sequels to Twilight.