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Sex and the City

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Link to the thread on the TV series.

Does this mean I have to watch the TV series now, so that I know what I'm talking about if and when I review the film?

- - -

'Sex and the City' heads to theaters

New Line Cinema is getting in bed with HBO on "Sex and the City." After much foreplay, the movie version of the long-running HBO series is gearing for a fall start, with New Line near a deal to finance and distribute. Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon are all set to reprise their roles, with longtime exec producer Michael Patrick King directing a script he wrote. . . .

Variety, July 4

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Posted · Report post

One or two episodes will suffice. We're not dealing with Shakespearian characters here -- each of the four barely has more than a single trait. (Cynthia Nixon hides that lack of development well, however.)

Dale

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I liked the TV series. I thought the writing was excellent.

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Bizarre. Just wondering if anyone else has had this experience: I just asked the local rep about press screenings for this film, and he replied that there would be a "small" screening for "select media" and industry types, but no "regular press screening" -- in other words, folks like me ain't going. This almost never happens -- but then, Sunday-afternoon press screenings like the one we had for Indiana Jones almost never happen either, and yet we had THOSE all around the world, virtually simultaneously, just a few days ago. So I'm just wondering if anyone else has found the Sex and the City screenings unusually "selective" like this, in terms of how many critics they allow in.

If not, then I wonder if the discrepancy might be due to the fact that this film was produced by New Line, which was recently absorbed by Warner Brothers in the States, but still releases its films through Alliance here in Canada. (Warner takes over Canadian distribution of New Line films at the end of the year.)

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Big to-do here in Seattle next Tuesday. Regular press/promotional screening, plus a half-hour (supposedly) live satellite feed of a "pink carpet" event from New York City prior to the screening.

Sadly, I'll be there.

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Something similar going on here in DC.

For the Tuesday, May 27 screening of SEX AND THE CITY - please note

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That's interesting. The only Vancouver screening I'm aware of -- and I don't think I was supposed to hear about it -- is on Monday, not Tuesday.

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Unbelievable. A glance at the film blogs I review each day reveals several entries across the blogosphere about this movie and men's willingness, or lack thereof, to see it. Is this the best industry analysts and movie critics can do? The movie's not out yet, so reviews of the film itself aren't really out there yet, but what about the standard fluff pieces, actor profiles, etc? I'm sure there have been a few of those related to this movie -- I haven't read them, but that's the sort of thing I expect before a major film is released. Instead, all the analysis pieces concentrate on men who say "there's no way in hell I'm going to see this movie" or women who are die-hards but can't convince their boyfriends to see the movie with them.

How many male-oriented action movies -- pretty much every other major summer release -- get held up to such scrutiny?

I'd be even more put off by this if I thought the movie had anything serious to say. I'm sure it doesn't, although I'd take even one or two predictable pieces about the vapidity of these characters and their lifestyle choices over the "will men bother to see it?" line that keeps cropping up.

EDIT: Just discovered that the film already has screened for critics, and at least one female critic doesn't care for it.

Edited by Christian

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OK, that's better. ;)

But do you think women can convince their husbands and boyfriends to see it with them? That's the pressing issue!

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Christian wrote:

: How many male-oriented action movies -- pretty much every other major summer release -- get held up to such scrutiny?

Yeah, but male-oriented action movies usually give the women something to enjoy, too -- studly men, women kicking ass, etc. Sex in the City is all about shopping, or relationships, or something -- what's in it for the guys?

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Why do you assume Sex and the City is only about "shopping, or relationships, or something"? Why do you assume the characters are shallow, and that watching one or two episodes will give you a sufficient understanding of its overall themes? Would you say The Sopranos was just about the mafia, or that The Wire was just about ghetto life?

Like every other show that has appeared on HBO - including The Sopranos and The Wire - the series contains a very intentional story arc that spans years, and involves complex themes, relationships, and emotions.

I won't bore you with those things here, though, since you don't seem interested anyway.

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Mrs. Zug wrote:

: Why do you assume Sex and the City is only about "shopping, or relationships, or something"?

It's not a question of what I "assume". It's a question of what sort of marketing hook, if any, this film has for guys.

: Would you say The Sopranos was just about the mafia, or that The Wire was just about ghetto life?

Those are TV shows, not movies.

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There IS no marketing hook for guys, and I don't see why there needs to be. It's a chick flick. They maybe be gambling with the purity of its chick-ness, but they happen to think it's a wager worth making.

Here's a Seattle Times article addressing the issue.

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Mrs. Zug wrote:

: There IS no marketing hook for guys, and I don't see why there needs to be. It's a chick flick.

Right, so how would you answer Christian's question, then? Regarding the scrutiny that this film is being held up to, etc.

A recent article asked whether Sex and the City fans were "geeks" like Star Trek fans, given that they use all the catchphrases and buy all the clothes, etc., etc. I imagine when the new Star Trek movie comes out, there will be lots of articles obsessing over whether the sci-fi franchise can cross over to "regular" moviegoers -- especially since director J.J. Abrams has explicitly said that that is what he wants the movie to do. But personally, as a Star Trek fan, I don't care whether the movie attracts non-fans or not. There doesn't need to be a marketing hook for non-fans. It's a Star Trek flick.

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There IS no marketing hook for guys

I can sure vouch for that, and it makes sense (especially after having seen the film -- it would have been bait-and-switch).

I don't see why there needs to be.

In an environment were critics lambaste adapted films for not being "true" to the source material, it sure does seem like we ought to be celebrating SATC for avoiding that trap.

However... At an estimated budget of $65 million, it also seems that, from a business perspective, the appeal of the film should have been broadened (in the same way as is done for other big-budget summer blockbuster fare). After marketing costs, the ROI is going to be very small.

They maybe be gambling with the purity of its chick-ness, but they happen to think it's a wager worth making.

I think it will do around $180 million in domestic gross by the time it's all said and done. But the film will have zero crossover appeal, though it should please fans mightily over repeat viewings. (Do I underestimate the market potential for that demographic? Very likely. But what's the precedent from which to judge?)

Still, this makes sense for New Line, which under Bob Shaye's late tenure got in the habit of greenlighting projects that did NOT generate crossover business. And that, of course, is in part why Shaye was ousted.

Edited by Greg Wright

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Mrs. Zug wrote:

: There IS no marketing hook for guys, and I don't see why there needs to be. It's a chick flick.

Indeed, it seems the studio might have gone out of its way to turn guys off!

Greg Wright wrote:

: But what's the precedent from which to judge?

Most stories have compared this to the apparently unexpected success of The Devil Wears Prada -- which grossed $124 million in North America and another $201 million overseas (on a $35 million budget!). But Prada was PG-13, and therefore more marketable, supposedly, than Sex and the City, which is rated R. Then again, Sex and the City established its R-rated credentials as a TV series. Then again again, Die Hard 4 downshifted from an R to a PG-13 and did about as well as its predecessors did at the box office, did it not?

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Sex and Another City

Once inside, the movie's opening sequence, as expected, played to a spirited reaction: loud cheering and excited chatter continuing even a few scenes into the film. What was less expected was what the crowd would react to. Sure, there were the laughs at the raunchy visual gags that travel well -- humping dogs, phallic sushi and the like.

But the interesting thing was that the audience seemed to laugh at parts that we could swear were supposed to play straight, and in the U.S. no doubt will -- a mid-bridge reunion between a reconciling couple, a soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend's decision to let his soon-to-be-ex girlfriend keep a ring -- and, most noticeably, a decision by a couple to enter therapy. Therapy? A couple? Now that's comedy.

There were reports from early U.S. screenings of moviegoers weeping at some of these scenes. No sniffles here.

All this made us realize that for all of the HBO series' popularity in Europe, it really played as frilly fun -- with New York an idealized fairy-tale setting -- not as the more earnest exploration of feelings that at least in part drew U.S. viewers.

Steven Zeitchik, Risky Biz Blog, May 28

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Regarding the marketing of SATC, I'm not really sure what ya'll are getting at. Perhaps it's because I don't troll film critic blogs written by men, and I don't watch a lot of tv to catch the trailers. The blogs I read, which are all written by women who are not film reviewers, are eagerly anticipating the film. I know of at least one blogger who organized a Sex and the City cocktail party outside D.C., and was able to get it covered by local media.

I looked up the official trailer on the internet, and I'm not even clear from that where the idea comes from that the movie is simply about sex and shopping. Perhaps it's because I'm a fan, and I picked up on every story line mentioned in the trailer and instantly knew the significance of it from the tv series. Charlotte is pregnant? Significant because she was infertile, yet her entire identity was wrapped up in becoming a mother. Carrie marrying Big? Significant because the bastard is a ladies man and strung her along for years. Steve cheating on Miranda? Significant because Miranda was a fiercely independent single woman who didn't need anybody, yet she willingly gave herself into motherhood and marriage. Samantha still in a relationship with Smith? Significant because she goes through men like some of us go through paper towels - use them once and throw them away (but only to avoid being the one to get hurt).

The clincher for me, is that the trailer climaxes to make the point about life throwing things at you, but in the end all you have are true friendships. This is really what the series is about, and I'm assuming it's what the movie is about as well (I have not seen it yet).

I think comparing the SATC phenomenon to a Star Trek movie is dead on - there is most definitely a faithful following. It's obvious the majority of film goers will be die-hard fans who will know every little nuance not obvious to a novice, and who will pick up on every little gesture, facial expression, inside quip, etc. based on her knowledge of the tv series. Perhaps this explains why audiences laugh at times that seem strange to an outsider of the series - we know something you don't.

I was thinking about this yesterday - it seems to me like the SATC movie is almost like a deeply heartfelt thank you note from the producers to the show's fans (albeit the most expensive thank you note I've ever seen). It's their encore performance, lovingly created by the momentum from the show's increasing popularity through syndication. I really don't see anyone outside of this loop getting it, which seems to be the point you are all driving at.

But let's be honest, none of us are really expecting any die-hard fans to rely on reviews from clueless men anyway, so at least New Line has THAT going for them.

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But let's be honest, none of us are really expecting any die-hard fans to rely on reviews from clueless men anyway, so at least New Line has THAT going for them.

Well, reviews rarely stop anyone from seeing a movie, regardless of who its from. But reviews might make people want to see a movie they might otherwise have dismissed.

Your "expensive thank-you note" observation is pretty close to the mark, I'd say. It felt like a private party, and I felt like a crasher.

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Mrs. Zug wrote:

: Perhaps it's because I don't troll film critic blogs written by men . . .

Just for the record, one of my favorite film bloggers is Karina Longworth, and the other day she wrote, in response to Jeffrey Wells's criticism of the film:

Funny side note: I remember the moment when, as a senior in college, I decided that I could no longer in good conscience watch Sex and the City. It was, I think, the premiere of the first season to air after 9/11, and there was a scene where Carrie announced that she was going to help rebuild downtown by going shopping. It was such a direct aping of George W. Bush

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Posted (edited) · Report post

However... At an estimated budget of $65 million, it also seems that, from a business perspective, the appeal of the film should have been broadened (in the same way as is done for other big-budget summer blockbuster fare). After marketing costs, the ROI is going to be very small.

They maybe be gambling with the purity of its chick-ness, but they happen to think it's a wager worth making.

I think it will do around $180 million in domestic gross by the time it's all said and done. But the film will have zero crossover appeal, though it should please fans mightily over repeat viewings. (Do I underestimate the market potential for that demographic? Very likely. But what's the precedent from which to judge?)

Still, this makes sense for New Line, which under Bob Shaye's late tenure got in the habit of greenlighting projects that did NOT generate crossover business. And that, of course, is in part why Shaye was ousted.

This is very interesting to me, Greg. See, if I were to make a prediction, it would be much, MUCH higher. That's partly based on the fact that today will be the single busiest day on record at my theater in downtown DC, bar none. When they have a movie this anticipated, somehow I think they figured, rightly, that diluting it too much for the guys' sakes would be a big mistake.

Edited by David Smedberg

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David: I just discovered that a female coworker of mine, who arrived late this morning, had been at an 8:30 a.m. showing at your theater sponsored by the New York Convention Center or something. I didn't get a full review, but she said she liked the theater.

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Nice. Thanks for passing on the compliment; just so you know, it's not going to be mine for much longer, 'cause I had to put in notice that I'm quitting, at least temporarily. I'm working full-time at the Basilica in Northeast DC over the summer and there just weren't enough hours in the day.

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Onward and upward, eh? I won't be by anytime soon to send you off, I'm afraid. I'm not reviewing movies again until July, after our baby arrives (due date June 24). But if I'm ever at the Basilica, I'll look you up. :)

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