Two movies that aim directly at women- “That Awkward Moment” and “Labor Day” – are opening this weekend, and that’s no accident.
For Hollywood’s movie studios, the Super Bowl is … well, it’s the Super Bowl of counter-programming. (It’s also a big opportunity to buy ad time and play trailers to summer’s would-be blockbusters for a huge audience, but that’s a different story.)
While most of America is focused on Super Sunday’s hoopla, commercials, the guacamole and eventually the game, a certain percentage will opt instead to watch the Puppy Bowl, do some gardening or hit the multiplexes. And that’s the target demo this weekend.
It’s not a thin slice of America, but the football-free crowd can make a movie a hit. But odds are, it won’t be a testosterone-driven action epic, and both of this weekend’s entries are anything but.
“That Awkward Moment” is a romantic comedy about dating that stars Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller. “Labor Day” is a Jason Reitman drama that stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, and is best-known for a sensuous pie-making scene.
Back in 2008, teen girls lifted Disney’s “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus” Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour” set the record for the best Super Bowl weekend opening ever with $31 million. That could be a good thing for “Awkward Moment,” suggested Exhibitor Relations vice-president and senior analyst Jeff Bock.
“Maybe the ‘Awkward Moment’ crowd will be the exact same audience, five years removed, that turned out for Miley?” he wondered. “This actually does seem like a very good weekend for this movie. The Super Bowl is a very big deal, but there’s still Friday night and Saturday, and I don’t think the tailgating will extend that far forward.”
The second-best Super Bowl debut ever was the Channing Tatum-Amanda Seyfried romance “Dear John,” which brought in $30 million for Sony in 2010. And last year, it was the young female-targeting “Warm Bodies” that led the way with $20 million.
Seeing a trend here?
There are exceptions. “Taken,” an action saga starring Liam Neeson, connected with a $24 million debut on Super Bowl weekend in 2009 for Fox, which also scored with the sci-fi thriller “Chronicle” in 2012.
“We rewrote the book with ‘Taken,'” recalled Fox’s distribution chief Chris Aronson. “We had a movie we liked very much and wanted to find a window for it. We knew we’d sacrifice Sunday, but after that opening and $145 million later, we knew we’d made the right decision.”
No one’s rolling those dice this year, including the specialty releases. Anchor Bay is opening the Andy Garcia-Vera Farmiga romance “At Middleton” and Magnolia Pictures is rolling out the comedy “Best Night Ever,” but that’s it.