The three highest profile new movies this weekend — the holiday comedy “Love the Coopers,” the Chilean mine disaster film “The 33” and the Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt drama “By the Sea” — are all directed by women.
But it’s unlikely that the three small steps for women will turn into a giant box office leap for womankind because none of their films is expected to make more than $10 million on their opening weekend.
“Spectre” and “The Peanuts Movie” will dominate for the second consecutive week, say the analysts, who expect the James Bond thriller to make around $35 million for Sony and MGM while Charlie Brown walks away with around $25 million for Fox.
The trio of women directors with films debuting don’t have much in
Warner Bros.’ “The 33” is the biggest movie yet for Patricia Riggen, a young Mexican director best known for the 2007 film “Under the Same Moon” and the 2011 Disney Channel original film “Lemonade Mouth.”
“Love the Coopers” is a natural fit for veteran writer-director-producer Jessie Nelson, who wrote the screenplay for 1998’s “Stepmom” and who has specialized in adult fare, including producing “Hope Springs” and “Danny Collins.”
Still, the fact that the three openers are all female-directed matters in an industry under fire for under-representation of women behind the camera. Women comprised 51 percent of the moviegoing public in 2014, according to the latest MPAA report, but they hold just 20 percent of non-acting film jobs, a recent survey revealed.
“I’m glad to see it,” Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film and author of the report. “But I don’t hold out much hope for shifting the landscape. I’m still waiting for the ‘Bigelow Effect’ to kick in.”
She was referring to Kathryn Bigelow, who won the Best Director Oscar in 2010 for Best Picture winner “The Hurt Locker.” Many observers hoped her win would create more opportunities for women, but that hasn’t happened.
Universal’s “By the Sea” reteams Jolie with husband Brad Pitt for the first time since “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” a decade ago. No one is expecting grosses like that 2005 action film delivered, or even “Unbroken,” Jolie’s last directorial outing, which debuted to $30 million last December.
“By the Sea” is a $10 million romantic drama that the star also wrote and produced. Universal is rolling it out in just 10 theaters, hoping to build momentum, but that’s no given since the reviews haven’t been great (42 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes).
“The 33” is based on the 2010 Chilean mining disaster, in which 33 miners were trapped underground for more than two months in 2010. Antonio Banderas stars as “Super Mario” Sepúlveda, who sent videos to the rescuers to update them about the miners’ condition.
It will be on roughly 2,400 screens and is expected to do the best of the new films. It’s also the most expensive, with a $25 million production budget.
“Love the Coopers” is the first Christmas-themed release of the year. The ensemble romantic comedy is being released by CBS Films in partnership with Lionsgate and it should be with us awhile.
Four generations of the Cooper clan gather on Christmas
It’s a feel-good movie in a marketplace dominated by blockbusters and loaded with awards films with serious themes, and that should help. It will be in around 2,500 theaters.
Also opening, “My All-American,” starring Finn Wittrock as a determined football player who winds up at the University of Texas, where he encounters legendary Longhorns coach Darrell Royal. Aaron Eckhart, Sarah Bolger and Robin Tunney co-star.
Screenwriter Pizzo adapted the PG-rated tale from Jim Dent’s book “Courage Beyond
Distributor Clarius Entertainment will have it in around 1,500 theaters, and would be glad to see it hit $4 million.