Director Elizabeth Banks’s “Charlie’s Angels” remake only grossed $8 million in revenue in its opening weekend. Given that the film’s budget bordered $50 million, this is a very poor performance for a major studio release.
Overall, the reviews have been mixed, as some praise Banks for not resorting to “jiggle TV,” i.e. scantily clad women engaging in implicitly sexualized choreographed, which was a tactic the previous renditions used to bring men to watch the movies. Other critics were disappointed that it could possibly have been this bad.
Let’s get it clear, the previous renditions of this movie, though sometimes incredibly cheesy, had a certain aspect of flair and charisma. Most notably, it had people that the audience wanted to see even if the movie was rated poorly by critics.
Banks’s “Charlie’s Angels” had a cast that included many unknown actors (like Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska, two of the leading ladies) or no one was interested in seeing (a strange reintroduction to mainstream Hollywood for Kristen Stewart). The film didn’t seem to have an interesting enough plot that people would pay to see and was just marketed badly.
Let’s take movies that targeted women primarily like “Fifty Shades of Gray,” a movie that critics reviled, but that overperformed with a budget of $40 million and $571 million worldwide gross. It was a movie that directly catered to women. It focused its marketing on women and enticed them to come watch the movie. If you take a look at its numbers, they did, in swarms.
Claiming misogyny as the reason people didn’t see your movie is unacceptable when there are prominent female action movies that don't fit the genre of “superhero movies” like “Atomic Blonde,” “Annihilation" and the forever classic “Kill Bill: Volume 1.” These movies broke stereotypes, showed women they’re powerful and were simply good movies to watch.
The main reason this movie flopped was due to marketing. As annoying as reboots can be, they don’t stop people from coming and spending their money at the cinema. No one is going to watch a movie without first watching a trailer, and Banks’s “Charlie’s Angels” trailer was underwhelming, to say the least. It did not propel me to see the movie.
Even in the trailer the acting looked subpar, not at all like a movie that I could splurge $7 at the Rutgers Cinema. I’ll admit, I’ve seen some pretty bad movies, either due to actors I adore or due to a sick trailer. I can’t count how many times this has happened, but this goes to show that in 2019, a movie's success depends on how good its trailer can be.
With as much buying power as women have, when you look at franchises targeted at women like “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Sex and the City,” women will spend money on a movie and invest in a franchise when they want to. Quite frankly, nobody was clamoring for a new “Charlie’s Angels” film, so it's not a huge shock that the film was unsuccessful.
Other reboots have more appeal because they’re a part of a studio’s larger creative direction or due to changes in intellectual property ownership (the three different iterations of Spider-Man in the last 15 years explain this phenomenon well).
Women are not obligated to watch a bad movie just because it displays a female lead, just as men are not obligated to watch a movie just because it’s action. In fact, no one is obligated to watch anything or to spend their money on anything.
Next time, Banks should work on just making a better movie or investing in a better marketing team.