[Extreme Denzel Washington in Philadelphia voice]
Explain this to me like I’m a five-year old:
There’s a wave of raunchy female led comedies, many of which are successful financially and popular with critics, and Ocean’s 8 with an all-women cast just opened to $41.5m (a best in the series) but Sony has decided to spike a planned movie starring Spider-Man characters Black Cat and Silver Sable.
Similarly, Solo: A Star Wars Storyunderperforming at the box-office was taken by many as a sign that origin stories and prequels for well-known characters may be out of favor with audiences, but Warner Bros. is reportedly moving forward with a Joker stand-alone movie starring Jared Leto, who first played the character in the critical dud Suicide Squad.
As Scott Mendelson said on Twitter yesterday…
Now the reasons for Sony pulling Black Cat/Silver Sable off the table aren’t clear and may be completely innocuous. But this is a movie that’s been in some stage of development for a while, at least as long as the Venom movie that’s opening later this year. So the fact that the latter moved forward despite widespread audience skepticism while the former has gone back to the drawing board is curious to say the least.
There would seem to be a strong case for Warner Bros. to prioritize the Birds of Prey movie that’s been discussed for a while now over Joker, especially as Leto’s performance in Squad was roundly mocked. Conversely, Margot Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn was often called out as the highlight of that movie. And that doesn’t even get into how popular Wonder Woman was.
So what’s the hold up? How many more times can female-led movies prove successful with audiences before they become no-brainers?
The same question could even be asked of the Star Wars universe. Solo fizzled at the box-office while The Force Awakens, Rogue One and The Last Jedi, all of which focused on female characters, so where’s Leia: A Star Wars Story in the pipeline? Or how about a side story featuring Mara Jade, Doctor Aphra, Padme, Aurra Sing or any other character?
If Hollywood really is all about repeating what works, it would seem there’s a formula sitting right there, just waiting to be embraced.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.