Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
In the #MeToo era, Hollywood had a tough choice. Stop raping women or reboot every movie franchise with an all-female cast to show the industry’s feminist bona fides. Guess which one the industry picked?
Feminist franchise reboots are to the movie industry of this decade what movies attacking the Iraq War were to the last decade. Even though they consistently lost money, sometimes in the nine figures, they kept arriving in local movie theaters and leaving after a few weeks with millions lost and virtue signaled.
The latest disaster is a Charlie’s Angels reboot that managed to combine the pulse pounding excitement of an Elizabeth Warren rally with the script of an Elizabeth Warren rally. It opened with $8 million and went downhill from there. By Monday, it was grossing $155 per theater. Yes, you read that correctly.
It would have been more profitable for theaters showing the feminist Charlie’s Angels reboot to replace it with a mime act, a snail eating contest, or the national conference of Blacks for Buttigieg.
The original Charlie’s Angels movie made over $250 million. This one may not even make a tenth of that.
Or cover its budget.
Elizabeth Banks who directed it blamed, wait for it, men. The other half of the species was being sexist.
“If this movie doesn’t make money it reinforces a stereotype in Hollywood that men don’t go see women do action movies,” Banks had complained.
But men had gone to see the original movies. The problem wasn’t women. It was the censorious air of feminism that pervades every feminist production. Nobody goes to an action movie to be scowled at.
Charlie’s Angels succeeded on its terms. Like all failed feminist projects, the real premise is that society is unfair and men are bad. A failed feminist reboot proves its point by bombing at the box office.
That’s why a major component of the marketing campaign for every future failed feminist reboot are the preemptive accusations of sexism aimed at all the audiences who won’t go to see the movie.
Banks saw it coming because earlier this month, Terminator: Dark Fate, the feminist reboot of Terminator that nobody was asking for, crashed at the box office. It’s currently in tenth place with a take of $57 million. Or the cost of making up Arnold Schwarzenegger to vaguely resemble a human being.
Estimates are that the feminist reboot will lose as much as $120 million. You could build an actual killer robot for that kind of cash.
Tim Miller, who directed it, had claimed that his female terminator would “scare the f___” out of “closet misogynists.” The only people it actually scared were investors and their accountants. Who could have seen it coming? Well it was the second failed effort at a feminist reboot of the Terminator franchise.
Get ready for the third one which will terminate anyone still willing to fund feminist robot reboots.
Ocean’s 8, one of the first post-Weinstein feminist reboots, made $150 million less worldwide than Ocean’s Eleven and $65 million less than Ocean’s Twelve. And that’s not accounting for inflation. It even performed below the ghastly failure that was Ocean’s Thirteen.
That should have been a warning that feminist virtue signaling won’t make a bad movie, good.
Before Ocean’s 8, the feminist Ghostbusters reboot had flopped with an estimated loss of $75 million. Both movies made a point of appropriating the material from the originals while burying them. Literally, in the case of Ocean’s 8 and Danny Ocean. Ghostbusters insisted on cameos of the original cast in different roles. Accusations of sexism were hurled before the movies in question were even released.
And the same accusations were rolled out for Charlie’s Angels and Terminator: Dark Fate.
What’s actually killing feminist reboots isn’t sexism. It’s political laziness. You can make a good movie or engage in virtue signaling, be entertaining or sanctimonious, but you can’t do both. The key elements of woke filmmaking when applied to film franchises translate into diversity checkboxes and unearned displays of female empowerment, instead of such minor elements as storytelling and character.
Buzz is manufactured by marketing these movies as important, but unappealing. Audiences are told that they’re bad people if they don’t go see them. But you can’t market a Charlie’s Angels reboot or the umpteenth Terminator with Arnold as a killer robot who needs a walker as if they were movies about the Holocaust, slavery, or some other great tragedy. That’s not why people go see popcorn flicks.
And they’re well aware that the hacks and flacks accusing them of sexism work in the industry that produced Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves, and other Clinton pals who marketed fictional female empowerment while assaulting the women they worked with in the real world. Hollywood’s bout of post-#MeToo feminism is as convincing as Michael Jackson’s love for all the world’s children.
The feminist reboots aren’t just virtue signaling, they’re a cover-up of a sexually predatory industry.
You don’t need to be a feminist to not assault women. But you do need to be a feminist to assault women and then produce a documentary claiming that most women on campus have been raped.
That’s not a random example. It’s what Harvey Weinstein did with The Hunting Ground.
Given a choice between actually treating women like human beings or digging through their pile of badly used intellectual properties and rebooting them into unwatchable displays of shrill feminism, and then using their inevitable failures to claim the moral high ground over the public, Hollywood does the latter.
These movies don’t exist to entertain audiences, but to make a point. Feminism isn’t the point. It’s the façade of the true point which is that an industry of sexual predators is better than most Americans.
Hollywood has wasted over $200 million trying to make this particular point. But think of it as the marketing budget for the industry’s efforts to rehab its way past the #MeToo reckoning. And the industry will go on making as many feminist reboots as it takes to get everyone to stop associating it with couch casting, child abuse and drugged drinks, and associate it with militant feminism instead.
The feminist reboot pipeline is still humming along. $200 million sounds like a lot, but Hollywood wasted a lot more money on anti-military movies during the Bush years with even less to show for it. Green Zone became one of the biggest flops when it made $35 million on a budget more than four times that.
It didn’t matter that audiences didn’t want to see yet another sanctimonious lecture about the folly of fighting Islamic terrorists. And it doesn’t matter now that audiences don’t want sanctimonious lectures about feminism and diversity in their action movies. Hollywood decides what audiences really want.
If audiences don’t want 140 minutes of an Elizabeth Warren rally with occasional stunts, they’re bad people. And Hollywood will keep making feminist reboots of everything from the 80s just to spite them.