Movies Finally Allowing Women to Take Revenge

It’s long been a staple of movies that men seek revenge when some tragedy befalls them. Think of films like Death Wish, where the killing of the main character’s entire family sends him over the edge into vigilantism. The system is always failing white men, who then have to take matters into their own hands.

That such stories have been so common for so long is at least in part responsible for some of the societal problems we face today. These aggrieved white men tried to be good but were forced to go outside the law by the politically correct socialists who want to rehabilitate people instead of jail them and refuse to shoot someone on sight before they are allowed due process in a judicial system awash in corrupt judges and slimy prosecutors.

You can see how that would, when taken along with everything else, add to someone’s burgeoning victim complex, causing them to see everyone in authority along with anyone who doesn’t look like them and share their anger to be seen as the enemy.

Recently, more female characters have been allowed to take on roles that see them seizing power for themselves, often by exacting some level of revenge on those who have wronged them.

Consider a few examples.

Widows (2018) – Four women come together to pay off the debts left behind when their criminal husbands are killed or disappear, plotting a major heist that will allow them to control their own destiny.

Peppermint (2018) – After her husband and child are killed, a woman returns to take down the organized criminals responsible since the justice system was unwilling or unable to do so years ago.

The Hustle (2019) – Two female con artists work together to take down the men who have wronged them – and others like them – over the years

The Kitchen (2019) – Three women are left on the edge of collapse when their husbands are sent to prison, finding the key to survival involves becoming criminals themselves, seizing more power than their husbands ever dreamed of.

Hustlers (2019) – Tired of having to scramble and compromise, a group of night club dancers set out to turn the tables on the Wall Street bros who have everything while they worry about making enough for food and rent.

On that list you’ll find story elements common to the male-centric movies of both the past and present, as well as the future. So it’s not that anything new is generally being done here, it’s just the women are finally being given some agency in their own lives beyond “suffering wife who encourages her husband to go out there and get the son of a bitch who did this” or “helpless woman who has to enlist the aid of male hero cop who will help her finally find justice.”

the kitchen pic

What’s unfortunate is that these movies are finally arriving at a time when non-franchise blockbusters are tanking left and right at the theatrical box office. Of the three that have already finished their release lifecycle, Widows was the most successful with $42 million domestically. The Kitchen performed poorly in its opening weekend and Hustlers’ fate is uncertain due to the financial problems reportedly plaguing Annapurna Pictures.

While there’s a bigger issue of movies that glorify vigilantes and criminals as empowering and justified, that women are finally able to take on these roles themselves is a marked step forward. Let’s hope there are more of them to come, whether they hit theaters, Netflix or other distribution, so that women see they can take charge of themselves and are allowed to feel emotions every bit as deep and sometimes troubling as men have long been free to.

The Hustle – Marketing Recap

the hustle posterAnne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson stars in this week’s comedy The Hustle. Hathaway is Josephine, a high-end con artist living in luxury because she sets her sights high, targeting wealthy men and playing them like a fiddle. Wilson’s Lonnie is also a con artist but on the other end of the spectrum, taking marks for $50 here and $100 there.

When Lonnie meets Josephine she’s in awe of what the more successful woman has accomplished, convincing Josephine to take her under her wing. So Josephine begins to train Lonnie to up her game a bit, using more skills to get more money than she could ever dream of. That leads to lots of comedy as their styles clash.

The Posters

There’s just the one poster that shows Lonnie and Josephine posing in front of a solid gold luxury car looking fabulous and ready for action. The movie’s status as a loose remake of an earlier story is hinted at in the copy “They’re giving dirty rotten men a run for their money.” It’s not a bad effort, presenting a gold-hued blank slate for the audience to project all kinds of hijinks on to.

The Trailers

Lonnie is working her magic on an unsuspecting mark as the first trailer opens, taking him for an extravagant meal while feeding him a story about a missing sister. That gets the attention of Josephine, who sees unrealized potential and so takes Lonnie under her wing to teach her the finer aspects of the con. Lonnie’s rough nature makes that education rough sledding and we see the trouble Josephine has teaching her student subtlety and sophistication.

Most of the scenes shown in the trailer are recognizable as variations on those from the 1988 film, but that’s alright. The dynamic between Hathaway and Wilson is solid, the two playing off each other well as they each vie for a position of power. It looks fresh and original despite its status as a third-generation remake, thanks largely to the talent involved.

The second trailer, released at the end of April, is pretty short and starts out by mimicking the trailers for Avengers: Endgame, using black and white shots featuring just a single stand-out color, in this case yellow. After asking “Who will take a stand?” for the centuries of injustice endured by women, it presents Josephine and Lonnie as “The Revengers” before showing the two of them engaging in their cons and only begrudgingly getting along.

Online and Social

In addition to the usual marketing materials, the movie’s official website features a video for the Avril Lavigne song from the film but as a downloadable file that people are then encouraged to upload to their own social network profiles. The theory seems to be that getting more people to share original video will help it trend and rank higher in search and news feed algorithms than if people share a post from the movie’s page or profile.

In addition to the usual networks the website also links to a Giphy profile filled with GIFs pulled from the trailers that you can share on your own.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

AMC and other theater chains helped to build buzz with advance “Girls Night Out” screenings the week prior to wide release.

Some TV advertising was done but none were shared on MGM’s YouTube channel.

Media and Publicity

Wilson and Hathaway were interviewed about the costumes they wore and how this movie does or doesn’t diverge from the original film.

The first clip from early May showed Lonnie begging Josephine to take her under her wing and teach her to be a high-end con artist, threatening a call to Interpol if she refuses. Another has Josephine showing Lonnie how to cry on demand in order to manipulate the men they’ve targeted. Later on there were additional clips showing the scene at the casino table and more.

An interview with the pair on the BBC’s “Graham Norton Show” was repurposed as a featurette focusing on Wilson’s efforts in her role as producer to address the sexist double standard that originally slapped the movie with an R rating.

Hathaway showed up on “Good Morning America” to promote the movie and share how nervous she was to take on a British accent given the backlash she’s faced when doing so in the past. Wilson appeared on “The Today Show” to talk about the story as well.

Overall

The studio isn’t trying too hard to play down the movie’s status as a remake of an earlier film, nodding in that direction with copy and taglines and more. It’s not a bad approach to take, especially since it’s such a safe bet in an age where remakes, reboots and other revisitings of known material are easy sells to investors even if audiences aren’t always on board.

That approach does a disservice to the actors in this version, though, playing down what they can do and are doing by needing to fit them into a neat little box. By focusing so intently on using scenes that are reenactings of those made famous by Michael Caine and Steve Martin it casts Hathaway and Wilson in the role of imposters as opposed to giving them something original to do.

Picking Up the Spare

More Promoted Tweets like this ran in the days following the movie’s release. 

A clip was released that focused on the black dress Wilson sports in a key sequence from the movie. 

Wilson did more TV appearances as did Hathaway. The latter also spoke more about the movie during her Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony. 

Another TV commercial released after the movie was in theaters touted its position as “The #1 comedy” in the country, a nice way to snatch victory.