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The Truth About Female Directors and Box Office Dollars Bites

As our friend Erik Davis pointed out over on Cinematical, Catherine Hardwicke scored the best opening weekend for a female director ever with Twilight‘s $70.5 million box office. That said, it only garnered a 44 percent positive rating from users on Rotten Tomatoes, the site we often use to get the general consensus on a film.

The former female director holding the record was Mimi Leder for 1998’s scifi flick Deep Impact, which scored a 46 percent positive rating.

Neither is film is exactly what we’d call Dark Knight (94 percent!) material.

It begs the question: What is wrong with American audiences that mediocre action movies by female directors are rewarded with big box office returns? Yes, we know that the ticket sales were increased by the hordes of retainer clicking tweens fiercely clutching their Stephanie Meyer’s books, but that doesn’t explain the widespread popularity of the film or why well-made movies by lady directors can win Oscar awards but not box office contests.

Where is Sofia Coppola with her 95 percent for Lost in Translation? Mira Nair with her 94 percent for Monsoon Wedding? Julie Delpy with 86 percent for 2 Days in Paris? Lighter, more accessible popcorn flicks like Amy Heckerling’s Clueless (83 percent) and Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own only grossed $10.6 million and 13.7 million respectively. Even Catherine Hardwicke can’t compete — her well-received 2003 film Thirteen, which scored an 82 percent on the Tomatometer took in $4.5 million over the course of its entire run.

With that kind of tough reality, is it any wonder that film directing is a still a man’s world?

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