Warner Bros president of production Jeff Robinov has made a new decree that "We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead". This Neanderthal thinking comes after both Jodie Foster's The Brave One (even though she's had big recent hits with Flightplan and Panic Room) and Nicole Kidman's The Invasion (as if three different directors didn't have something to do with the awfulness of the gross receipts) under-performed at the box office recently. … Of course, Warner Bros has always been male-centric in its movies. But now the official policy as expressly articulated by Robinov is that a male has to be the lead of every pic made. I'm told he doesn't even want to see a script with a woman in the primary position (which now is apparently missionary at WB).Gloria Allred is decidedly unpleased, saying if the studio "confirms that their policy is to now exclude women as leads, then my policy would be to boycott films made by Warner Bros." In that eventuality, I would hope that every actress in Hollywood does the same. Then Warner Bros. can go back to making movies the old-fashioned way. I'm sure Vin Diesel would make a lovely Lois Lane.
Shaker GayAsXmas, who gets the hat tip, says via email: "[T]here are actresses out there who could make credible action heroes (Angelina Jolie, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Garner, Gina Torres) but [aren't given the opportunity] due to a fundamental lack of imagination from the mostly male Hollywood culture. Just give Joss Whedon $50 million and let him play with it, dammit!" Sing it, brotha.
Of course, it's not just action films that WB is unwilling to make with female leads, but all films. Every genre is to be female lead-free—because, evidently, teh bitchez is Hollywood poison!
I know it's a crazy suggestion, but maybe WB could just try making movies with female leads that people actually want to see before giving up on teh womminz altogether. And, while you're at it, perhaps you could try something original. This precludes endless derivations of Steel Magnolias in which eclectic groups of sassy women are bound by their patronage of the same salon, a book/foodie/quilting club, or magical pants. It also precludes remakes and/or thinly veiled modernizations of Jane Austen's stories, especially Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and Emma. It yet further precludes various bastard children of The Odd Couple and Cagney & Lacey. All of these things have been done, and often done well.
Don't try to give us Clarice Starling 2007. Give us a whole new goddamned character. Or open a history book and acquaint yourselves with one of the many women throughout history whose amazing stories would make compelling biopics. I don't need one more fucking picture about Queen Elizabeth I, no matter how well it's done. On the other hand, give me L. Scott Caldwell as Ida B. Wells and I'll consider paying your exorbitant ticket price.
The truth is, I'm just not interesting in paying money to see talented women play hookers, strippers, bimbos, witches, psychos, and second-fiddle to tiny actors with veneered grins. When Kelly McGillis is the Top Gun, give me a call.
Oh—and one more suggestion. When you've got a film with a female lead in the can, try actually marketing it. I never even heard of The Invasion until it was already out of theaters, but, despite barely watching any network television, I can't seem to escape adverts for the truly stinktastic-looking The Heartbreak Kid, which is Dreamworks not WB, but wev, you get my point. Invest in female leads like you do male leads—and that includes occasionally casting a woman who's been seen on film before, instead of constantly casting the ingénue of the month—and I bet you'll find you get similar returns on that investment.
[UPDATE: Ginmar and Echidne comment, too.]