With its muscular $70 million opening weekend despite scant appeal for guys, "Twilight" has redefined expectations for the chick flick.
While offering some high-flying vampire battles, its main action centers on the developing romance between two teens played by relative unknowns Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Women and girls made up more than 75 percent of the film's opening-weekend audience, according to Fandango.com, which sells tickets and conducts surveys about recent releases.
With the movie's stellar opening weekend — it trounced the celebrated $55.7 million opening of "Sex and the City" — studios ought to take notice of women's continued ticket-buying power, said Paul Dergarabedian of box-office tracking firm Media By Numbers.
"The word 'chick flick' is going to have to be replaced by big box-office girl-power flick," he said. "The box-office clout of the female audience is just astounding, and it's been an underserved audience for way too long. ... They have no trouble finding money for the things they're passionate about."
Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines chick flick as "a motion picture intended to appeal especially to women." But "Twilight" is no lightweight date movie — instead, it's a real-girl's chick flick, where a normal-looking teenager finds romance with a modern (if undead) Prince Charming.
"It's the most insanely romantic film since 'The Notebook,'" said Harry Medved, a spokesman for Fandango.com, who described Pattinson's Edward Cullen as "the ideal boyfriend. ... He's incredibly strong, superfast, impossibly handsome, he plays the piano and all he cares about is what's on her mind."
Here's a look at some of the top-grossing chick flicks in recent years:
- "Sex and the City" (2008) earned $55.7 million its opening weekend and more than $150 million to date. Easily the biggest chick flick until now, it had something going for it that "Twilight" did not: at least some crossover appeal with men who were fans of the long-running TV series.
- "High School Musical 3" (2008) had a $42 million opening weekend and has already earned $84 million just one month after its release. This successful Disney franchise has more tween appeal than a standard chick flick.
- "Enchanted" (2007) opened with $34.4 million and went on to earn more than $127 million. Disney mixed music, princesses and Dr. McDreamy for big box-office success.
- "Titanic" (1997) opened to $28.6 million in ticket sales and $600.8 million to date, making it the highest-grossing film of all time. Women got steamy romance, men got spectacular disaster action. Both saw it several times and probably bought it on DVD.
- "Mamma Mia!" (2008) opened with $27.6 million and has topped $142 million. Based on the popular musical inspired by Abba's hits, it had a built-in audience with fans of both live theater and the Swedish supergroup.
- "The Devil Wears Prada" (2006) collected $27.5 million its opening weekend and more than $124 million to date. Great performances and Oscar nominations (for costume design and star Meryl Streep) likely boosted this film, which also appealed to men with its sendup of the fashion and publishing industries.
- "The Princess Diaries" (2001) earned $22.8 million its opening weekend and eventually grossed over $108 million. Disney plus princesses equals success (see "Enchanted").