Fuck Yeah, Black Widow

Jul 28


Jul 27

Female-led Movies Overperform at the Box Office


When the Melissa McCarthy led Tammy came out, it made less than a lot of analysts predictions and lead to a lot of disappointed rumbling. This is surprising because the film made a lot of money at the domestic box office, relative to its budget (it cost $20 million to make, and took in a little more than that in just its opening weekend.)

So why were people so disappointed? Probably because Melissa McCarthy’s films have a history of ridiculously overperforming. (The Heat, Bridesmaids, Identity Thief). For Melissa McCarthy, incredible return on investment is the norm. 

When I examined the 100 highest performing films in 2013 and 2012, as well as films released so far in 2014, a pretty clear pattern emerged: female-led films leave male-led films in the dust, once you pay attention to their production budget. Melissa McCarthy is just an extreme example of this trend. I’ve included highlights from my analysis under the read more.

TLDR; Looking at box office take relative to production budget, female-led movies have overperformed for the past three years.

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“In another big win for Universal Pictures, Lucy took first place with over $44 million… Lucy's success can be attributed to a few factors. First, the movie had an intriguing premise (what if we could use more than 10% of our brains?) that was front-and-center in action-packed, visually-stunning advertisements. It helped that actress Scarlett Johansson's lead role here seemed like a natural extension of the butt-kicking brand she's built as Black Widow in The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” —

Ray Subers, Box Office Mojo

I’m not saying Lucy is a feminist triumph or a good movie, I’m saying it made Universal Pictures a lot of money this weekend. The action-stuffed trailers were totally deceptive but capitalized on action star appeal Johansson has created as Black Widow. Universal stuck that Marvel Studios brand onto its French artsy sci-fi flick and spun it into millions of dollars Marvel won’t get. Because Marvel maybe doesn’t believe a Black Widow movie could make money. Because Hollywood is still afraid of superheroines.

Look: Marvel says we should vote with our voices, if we yell and we yell one day they’ll hear us, probably, some time after Ant-Man 2: Still No Janet Van Dyne. What happens, though, if someone else takes the niche they’ve created and ignored, and makes that money first?



“I want to tell you, we take you seriously. You don’t understand the power that you have over what we do day in and day out. I work twenty hours a day to make sure that the imagery we bring to film is the best we can bring you. When we do see more Captain Marvels, more Gamoras, more Black Widows, we see that and it matters. The women and the men behind us care about what you love and what you want represented. Take that to heart because we take you to heart!” — Victoria Alonso, Marvel Studios EVP of Visual Effects