THE PUBLICIST: Women gain latest Hollywood victory in 'How To Lose A Guy'

Hollywood gospel holds that a man's movie would always outdraw a chick flick. The thinking was that men decided what film to see on a Saturday night, and their dates went along. "C'mon, honey, Arnold combats an army of killer zombies to save his ethnically diverse, 22-year-old wife. How romantic can you get?"

Hollywood gospel holds that a man's movie would always outdraw a chick flick. The thinking was that men decided what film to see on a Saturday night, and their dates went along. "C'mon, honey, Arnold combats an army of killer zombies to save his ethnically diverse, 22-year-old wife. How romantic can you get?"

Well, that male-dominated thinking has changed, and it might have been wrong to start with. Case in point: How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days made more money on opening weekend than the action flick, Shanghai Knights. Both movies did well, but the former did about $4 million better. It was a classic guys versus gals showdown - with the gals winning. There's also a stronger women's tone to the Oscar nominations this year. The Hours and Chicago are two of the leading Best Picture nominees. Both films feature women leads and themes. In fact, of all the nominees, only one, Gangs of New York, is a strictly male-dominated dominated film with patently violent content in that marvelous but typical Martin Scorsese vein. Perhaps this portends a shift in the kind of films Hollywood will make, and how they're marketed. (This female orientation is already evident in the music world, where women have commanded center stage for a few years now.) It may at least equate to more emphasis on women in film publicity campaigns (especially concerning those dreadful movie posters, which are often uninspired, male-dominated, and in dire need of a feminine touch). The stellar marketing for How to Lose A Guy really capitalized on Valentine's Day and our nation's current need for warm, fuzzy escapism. No violence, hardships, or sobering realities at the theater, thank you. Romantic comedies are always a safe place to seek shelter from bad news. Still, it's impressive that so many men were persuaded to pass up Jackie Chan kicking bad guys in the face. Nevertheless, despite the opening weekend win for How to Lose A Guy, it's quite possible that Shanghai Knights will do better overall in its theatrical and home-entertainment run. Of the two, it's the movie audiences would more likely see twice, and Chan does very well in the DVD market because of the special features and outtakes. But for now, in the year's first head-to-head rumble between movies with obviously different gender appeals, the ladies won the day. Hats off to them, guys. Maybe you can catch Shanghai at a matinee with your buddies.
  • Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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