Is the Problem With 'The Women' or the Chick Flick?

On top of that, critics panned "The Women" long before it hit theaters. USA Today called it "Defanged and drippy ... watered-down, sappy and earnest." Salon.com said it's "just like 'Sex and the City' but without the sex" and concluded, "Let the record show ... that a movie written by, directed by and starring women can suck just as mightily as anything any bunch of men could produce."

Less-than-stellar reviews didn't hurt "Sex and the City," nor did they bog down "Mamma Mia!" or "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2," the "female friendly" offering of late summer. But what all those movies had in common were big brand names to back them up, which, in conjunction with appealing to both the sexes, ultimately may be the most important factor in whether movie studios see chick flicks as revenue drivers going forward.

"Sex and the City" was able to parlay its footing in TV into a huge marketing campaign, complete with cocktails, tours and DVD editions timed to the release of the movie. Building buzz around a remake of a Depression-era film without any male leads is decidedly more difficult.

"As with big blockbusters like 'Harry Potter' and 'Spiderman,' it's all about the name," Pandya said. "If someone made a movie based on the characters of 'Desperate Housewives,' that would be huge. There's a lot of faith in the future for female oriented films, and when you're able to have appeal to men and women, that's when it really works. Otherwise you'd better have a damn good brand."

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