You know a movie is good when you leave when it ends and the first thing you think is, “One ticket for Salt 2, please.” Salt was an adrenaline shot to the senses administered personally by Angelina Jolie. While the spy thriller failed to dethrone the dreamy Inception at the box office, it still shot out of the gates strongly enough (raking in $36.5 million) to make studio execs and movie insiders smile.
The film’s big weekend has reaffirmed Angelina’s ability to open a movie. But it also raises an interesting question: Are women more likely to see an action movie with a female lead than men? If you look at Salt’s numbers, maybe so. According to the Los Angeles Times, 53 percent of the film’s opening weekend audience was female. Ladies first, am I right?
But why, exactly? Now I understand women’s interest in seeing another woman do all the big, bad-ass things the movie usually reserves for boys. But why wouldn’t men? In fact, isn’t an action movie with a female lead the proverbial win-win? You get to see things go boom and ogle the lady doing to booming. I mean us gay ladies have been able to figure out that formula, why not the fellas?
But perhaps times are changing. Salt’s opening handily beat out many of the summer’s other major male-dominated action contended including Prince of Persia, The A-Team, Green Zone, Jonah Hex, The Losers, Killers and Knight & Day. The latter, by the way, was the film Tom Cruise turned down Salt for to star in instead. Yep, the script was originally written with an Edwin Salt, not Evelyn. What a difference a little gender swap makes.
And things look good for Salt’s continued box office. Its audience was largely older, 25 and up. This means they’re more apt to go after a film’s opening weekend, unlike the youngsters who will quickly move on to the next thing their Tumblr dashboards say is awesome.
But is the film heralding in a new age of female action stars or, as Time magazine asserts, does this just reinforce the idea that Angelina is “the only female star who can make an action film a hit?” Admittedly, I went to see Salt for Action Angie. But I’m also interested in seeing the all-girl demolition army of Sucker Punch and, even though I’m not a huge zombie movie fan, it’s hard to resist the twofer of Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter in Resident Evil: Afterlife.
Angie famously told Sony Pictures head Amy Pascal that she didn’t want to play a Bond Girl, but Bond instead. With Salt, she may have found her own 007. But the real question is does this open the door for other female stars to find their inner Jason Bournes, Indiana Jones and John McClanes? Plenty of ladies are ready to pick up the mantle of the next great female action hero. Let’s hope Hollywood gives them the chance.