It’s good business to cast strong women in lead movie roles. Last summer’s opening weekend was a master class on femi-nomics when “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Pitch Perfect 2” faced off on May 15 — and both films came out ahead.
“Mad Max: Fury Road,” directed by George Miller, starred Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa, a rebel opposite Tom Hardy’s Max. No distressed damsel, the character with her own story arc was so tough the choice ignited a backlash that the franchise had gone fanatically feminist. As for “Pitch Perfect 2,” the sequel directed by co-star Elizabeth Banks featured Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Hailee Steinfeld in a femme-friendly musical comedy.
By the numbers, “Mad Max” cost an estimated $150 million to make. Opening weekend reaped $44 million, with worldwide grosses at $375 million and $153 domestically. Meanwhile, “Pitch Perfect 2” cost an estimated $29 million to make, opened to a $70 million weekend, grossed $285 million worldwide and $183 million domestic. Both films had strong female stars but represented very different genres — and the more female-focused of the two had the better return on investment.
More recently, Emily Blunt proved her box office chops in “Sicario,” in which she stars as an FBI agent who gets a crash course in the drug war, with Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro as her dubious mentors. Lionsgate Entertainment opened the $30 million thriller on Sept. 18 in platform release in six venues with a whopping $65,000 per-theater average…
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