(CNN) — There’s an old Hollywood tale, and it goes like this: Open a female-led movie around Valentine’s Day. Watch women go in droves and drive up box office numbers.
Then let Hollywood executives call it a fluke, since everyone knows that women don’t go to movies.
Over the past few weeks, that tale has been told with a twist.
Two female-led movies have earned astronomically high box office numbers — like “third best opening weekend” high — on fall weekends typically dominated by blockbuster movies aimed at men. “New Moon,” the second film in the “Twilight” vampire series, has grossed more than $230 million since its opening, while “The Blind Side,” about a white family that takes in a homeless African-
American boy, is already past the $100 million mark.
For both “Blind Side” and “New Moon,” women have made up more than half the audience. And by the time these films complete their runs, they could gross nearly $500 million each, said Gitesh Pandya, the editor of BoxOfficeGuru.com, because of a largely female audience packing theaters.
“There’s no difference in movie-going by gender; women are just as likely to go to the movies as men,” says Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.
If you give women movies reflecting their experience and interests, Lauzen says, they will go — even on opening weekend. And yet the movie industry always seems surprised to find out that women go to the movies.