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even my henchmen think I’m crazy | by maryann johanson

Jeff Robinov, who decreed that Warner Bros wouldn’t make movies with female leads, wants to not make women-led films elsewhere, probably

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Jennifer Garner Anne Hathaway Jeff Robinov Jessica Biel (Jeff Robinov with actors he doesn’t want to hire except as window dressing)

Remember back in 2007, when that executive jerk at Warner Bros. said that the studio would no longer be making movies with women in the leads?

That jerk was Jeff Robinov, and he has just left Warner Bros., according to Variety. If you thought that a major industry publication might mention the fact that Robinov had eliminated half the human race as appropriate protagonists for films, think again. Though this other Variety article makes it clear that Robinov

would want the same greenlight authority he [had] at Warner Bros.

though that no such opening exists in L.A. at the moment.

So there’s one good thing, at least.

How this man has still been gainfully employed in Hollywood since declaring that the flopping of The Brave One, The Reaping, and The Invasion were the fault of, respectively, Jodie Foster, Hilary Swank, and Nicole Kidman is a mystery. I mean, forget about the sexism — it’s clear this guy has no idea how Hollywood works. He should have been blaming shitty scripts, shitty directing, and shitty execs* who greenlight shit.

Robinov quickly denied saying anything about how unsuitable women are as the central characters in movies, but the list of Warner Bros. movies since 2007 exhibits a noticable lack of movies in which women are the leads.

On the other hand, much the same can be said for all the other studios, too, and Linda Holmes at NPR pointed out recently:

In many, many parts of the country right now, if you want to go to see a movie in the theater and see a current movie about a woman — any story about any woman that isn’t a documentary or a cartoon — you can’t. You cannot. There are not any. You cannot take yourself to one, take your friend to one, take your daughter to one.

There are not any.

By far your best shot, numbers-wise, at finding one that’s at least even-handedly featuring a man and a woman is Before Midnight (at 891 theaters) so I hope you like it. Because it’s pretty much that or a solid, impenetrable wall of movies about dudes.

Dudes in capes, dudes in cars, dudes in space, dudes drinking, dudes smoking, dudes doing magic tricks, dudes being funny, dudes being dramatic, dudes flying through the air, dudes blowing up, dudes getting killed, dudes saving and kissing women and children, and dudes glowering at each other.

So Robinov’s penchant for ignoring stories about the three and half billion of us who aren’t dudes likely assures him a cushy new job perpetuating this bullshit as soon as one opens up.

*ie, Jeff Robinov

  • http://reformamendment.blogspot.com/ Paul Wartenberg

    If he’s left Warner then there’s a good chance we can get that Wonder Woman movie finally made (Warner owns DC)… just gotta find a 5’10″ actress who’s good at wearing Greek armor and using a lasso to tie up guys. …um… please don’t take that out of context…

  • Lionel

    Very true, just look at this summer’s blockbusters. But also look at the cover stars in Empire magazine, which closely reflect whichever male superhero is fighting (male) robots or aliens this month. Risk-averse Hollywood is now playing to the 14 year old boy. Gosh, I remember a time when Empire even had Juila Roberts on its cover; fancy that!

  • Matt Clayton

    I second this. Maybe they can even use Joss Whedon’s unused script, and set one of his collaborators to direct it? I heard he was even looking at Cobie Smulders (aka Agent Hill) to don the armor and magic lasso…

    I’m sure Robinov was kicking himself at the double-punch of The Hunger Games (a strong female protagonist of a box office hit) and The Avengers last year (letting Joss Whedon’s WW film go to pot).

  • RogerBW

    Having a female protagonist is “different”. Do a “different” film, and it flops, and your career is blighted. The risk-aversion of Hollywood is — not surprising, but so extreme that it’s always worth keeping in mind. Along with these would-be moguls’ inability to tell quality from a good sales pitch.

  • singlestick

    What century is this, again?

    I recently watched a 1954 film called “Fire Over Africa,” with Maureen O’Hara as a spy in Tangiers. One of the chief baddies was a woman as well. But somehow, female protagonists are now box office poison? Ridiculous. And yeah, some of the positive buzz to the upcoming “Catch a Fire,” only emphasizes how stupid this crap is.

  • http://www.newbspeak.com Newbs

    Dudes in space? Neat!

  • Matt Clayton

    The thing is, “The Hunger Games” is the lone exception to that. Hollywood will continue to churn out lame rom-coms and Nicholas Sparks adaptations long after that franchise ends because that’s the tried-and-true method of profitable films aimed at women. And more R-rated comedic vehicles for Melissa McCarthy, since she’s pretty popular at the moment.

    I think Hollywood needs to realize that they’re constantly underserving a key demographic, like they have with the 50 and older demographic. There’s clearly hunger for more variety in the filmgoing experience… they’re more than willing to shell out for it. Baby boomers and positive word of mouth fueled the success of “Argo”, “The Town”, “Lincoln” and “Hope Springs.”

  • Dokeo

    Every year, one or two woman-led films are ALWAYS “surprise hits” or “lone exceptions” to the rule that these movies aren’t popular.

    I’d love to see a real analysis comparing the percentage of all women-led wide-release movies that become big hits (using an $X million criterion) vs. all men-led wide-release movies that meet the same standard.

    If only 20 (for example) women-led movies get wide release each year and 1 or 2 consistently do really well, you’ve got a 7.5% blockbuster rate. But if 400 “dude” movies yield, 12 (one per month) mega-hits, that’s only 3%. Anyone out there have real data?

  • Matt Clayton

    If anything, the strength of the surprise hits should open the doors for more female actors and directors to add variety to the marketplace. Frankly, I’m surprised that Amy Pascal, co-chairman for Sony Pictures, hasn’t pushed for more movies catering to the fairer sex. She can change that if she wants to.

    The Hunger Games has only served to re-ignite the YA book-to-film franchise juggernaut, and Lionsgate is trying to emulate that success again with next year’s Divergent (another dystopian-set film with a strong female protagonist). Time will tell if that will really make a difference, or if Hollywood is just going where the money is.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    You may have missed Dokeo’s point about “surprise hits.” They’re NOT a surprise. No doors are opening because of Hollywood’s sexism. The people in charge of the studios — including Amy Pascal — continue to believe, despite hard numbers to the contrary, that movies by and about women are box office poison.

  • Matt Clayton

    Which is a damn shame. It’s ironic how most of the ‘surprise hits’ with women headlining are 99% directed by men– Paul Feig, Gary Ross, et al. And you have talented women like Kimberly Peirce and Gina Prince-Bythewood struggling to get their next project off the ground.

  • Daigoro Ogami

    I know this is wrong to say — and I preemptively apologize — but guys who say the sorts of things said by Robinov tend to look like trolls, i.e., Jeff Robinov.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    It’s not ironic. It’s deliberate choice by the studios.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    The difference with Robinov is that he has the power to put his trollish beliefs into practice. Which he has indeed done over the past six years at Warner Bros.

  • Deep

    Jeff never said that about twomen. One day Robert Downey Jrs wife Susan will tell the world it was really Joel Silver’s character assasignation attempt. Only Joel, Susan, and one other producer on Joels team who were there when Joel leaked the fake story to Nikki Finke know the truth. Joel played this gane with every exec who didn’t do what he wanted. Lorenzo. Alan Horn. Robinov. Finally barry Meyer and Robinov fired Joel.

    Someone give me a book deal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Former Silver Pictures Assistant without a confidentiality agreeme t

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