The sure-to-be-a-hit movie “Sex and the City” will likely attract an alternative audience when it opens this weekend, one not often courted by Hollywood studios, women in their 40s and early 50s. As reported by the Associated Press, the online ticketing service Fandango has determined from a survey of ticket buyers for the movie before this weekend that 94 percent have been women; 67 percent plan to see the film in a group of other women; 16 percent said that they were going with one other woman; and just 6 percent said they were going with a man.
The film stars the four original cast members from the HBO series Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon, and fans turned out in mobs for Tuesday’s glittering New York City premiere. Tickets for tonight’s red carpet screening at Radio City Music Hall were reportedly being offered on eBay at the starting price of $1,000.
“Sex in the City is a cultural icon,” F. Miguel Valenti, the Lincoln Professor of Ethics and Art and head of the film program at Arizona State University, told TicketNews.
“Research tells us that we all love to see representations of ourselves up on the big screen,” Valenti said, adding he plans to see the film this weekend with his wife. “With ‘Sex and the City,’ woman see larger-than-life versions of themsleves, or even — as in the case of the character Samantha — caricatures or amalgamations. Whatever the psychology, ‘Sex and the City’ is fun to watch, and I’m certain it will be a box office hit with many, many returns on DVD as well.”
Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office trackers Media by Numbers, told the AP that his group has determined that the primary audience will be women from 20 to 55. “A huge female audience can create a blockbuster of a movie if there’s enough interest,” he said.
So “Sex and the City” could be the ultimate chick flick. But what is it about the show that so fascinates women? Yes, it’s the fabulous views of Manhattan and the vicarious glimpses into the City’s hottest restaurants and boutiques; yes it’s the sizzling wardrobes worn by the quartet of lead characters, each a strong, successful career woman. But to many it is the dish, the frank talk among the characters about relationships, careers, health, politics and society that made women so excited about the original series.
And the show, especially in its toned down syndication reruns on regular television, is gaining appeal among younger women as well. According to various online sources, 29,000 girls age 12 to 17 are regular watchers of the reruns (about 3 percent of the total audience).
There is also a mother-daughter contingent that cozies up to Sex and the City. “It’s a good show for opening up dialogue that might not have been said otherwise,” Melissa Havard, a Beverly Hills-based communications strategist told LA.com last week. “It’s an opportunity to talk about a lot of things as a springboard to other issues.”
Havard and her daughter Katie write the mother-daughter advice column “Ask the Teen Team” on Lovetoknow.com. The two often watch the TBS-TV version together. “It’s more of a girl-bonding thing,” Katie told LA.com. “Mom and I watch ‘Sex and the City’ and giggle… I would definitely say the show is escapist, a guilty pleasure.“
Whatever the demographics, “Sex and the City” is destined to be one of the summer’s leading lights at the box office among women. The success of 2006’s “The Devil Wears Prada,” which grossed $125 million, sent a message to studios that men aren’t necessary for a hit, USA Today entertainment critic Scott Bowles commented this week. A slate of female starring films is lined up for this summer. These include:
“Kit Kittredge: American Girl” (June 20), the first big-screen tale based on the popular dolls.
“Mamma Mia!” (July 18), the musical starring Meryl Streep about a bride-to-be who searches for her real father.
“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” (August 8), which continues the journey of four young women into adulthood.
“The Accidental Husband” (August 22), a comedy with Uma Thurman as a radio talk-show adviser.
“The House Bunny” (August 22), with a Playmate, played by Anna Faris, giving tips on everything from makeup to men to sorority girls.
Whether these will have the same resonance as “Sex and the City” remains to be seen, but Hollywood is certainly hoping for it.