Early this week an email uncovered in the Sony email hack between Sony Pictures chairman and CEO Michael Lynton and Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter has been circulating around after it was published on IndieWire.
The August 2014 email, with the subject line “Female Movies,” discusses previous failed attempts at female-led superhero films on screen.
Here’s the email in full:
As we discussed on the phone, below are just a few examples. There are more.
1. Electra (Marvel) — Very bad idea and the end result was very, very bad. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=elektra.htm
2. Catwoman (WB/DC) – Catwoman was one of the most important female character within the Batmanfranchise. This film was a disaster. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=catwoman.htm
3. Supergirl — (DC) Supergirl was one of the most important female super hero in Superman franchise. This Movie came out in 1984 and did $US14 million total domestic with opening weekend of $US5.5 million. Again, another disaster.
Numerous outlets covering the email appear to be taking the content — which is from one single email — out of context. Many articles either accuse the Marvel CEO of not believing in female superhero movies or suggest the Marvel head believes they are a poor idea.
Nowhere in this email does Perlmutter say he doesn’t believe in superheroine-led films. Nor does it say he thinks female superhero movies are a bad idea.
All this email tells us is that two executives were discussing female-centric films that have performed poorly in the past.
That’s just fact. No one (except maybe Universal who put out last year’s “Lucy“) has been able to make a successful standalone superheroine film yet. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible or that it can’t be done.
And, suggesting that Marvel’s Perlmutter is against them doesn’t completely hold water.
Sure, fans have been up in arms waiting for when (if) we would ever get a standalone Black Widow (starring Scarlet Johansson) film, given the popularity of the superheroine. After the success of 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” in which Widow was a lead character, Johansson successfully led Universal’s “Lucy” last summer. The action picture, which saw the transformation of Johannson into a superpowered human became a huge hit made over $US458 million worldwide.
Just because there’s no Black Widow movie in the works, doesn’t mean Marvel doesn’t value female characters.
Marvel president Kevin Feige has previously spoken about the potential of a female-led superhero film. Here’s what he said to Comic Book Resources in 2014:
“I very much believe in doing it. I very much believe that it’s unfair to say, “People don’t want to see movies with female heroes,” then list five movies that were not very good, therefore, people didn’t go to the movies because they weren’t good movies, versus [because] they were female leads. And they don’t mention “Hunger Games,” “Frozen,” “Divergent.” You can go back to “Kill Bill” or “Aliens.” These are all female-led movies. It can certainly be done.”
For anyone suggesting Marvel doesn’t believe in female-centric films, the studio announced a Captain Marvel film back in October for release in July 2018.
The company wouldn’t make a female-led film if it didn’t believe it could work.
Is Marvel hesitant to make a female standalone film? Probably.
But who could blame the studio? Look at the track record for female standalone superhero films.
|Movie||Opening Weekend||Worldwide Gross||Estimated Budget|
|“Sheena” (1984)||$US2.9 million||$US5.8 million||n/a|
|“Supergirl” (1984)||$US5.7 million||$US14.3 million||n/a|
|“Red Sonja” (1985)||$US2.3 million||$US6.9 million||n/a|
|“Tank Girl” (1995)||$US2 million||$US4 million||$US25 million|
|“Catwoman” (2004)||$US16.7 million||$US82.1 million||$US100 million|
|“Elektra” (2005)||$US12.8 million||$US56.7 million||$US43 million|
|“Aeon Flux” (2005)||$US12.7 million||$US52.3 million||$US62 million|
|“Kick-Arse” (2010)||$US19.8 million||$US96.2 million||$US30 million|
|“Lucy” (2014)||$US43.9 million||$US458.9 million||$US40 million|
Other than “Lucy,” which we’ll categorise as a superhero film, it isn’t pretty.
That’s, at least, one reason Lynton and Perlmutter were most likely having the above conversation in the first place.
In order to make a successful superheroine film you need to know what didn’t work in the past. That’s most likely what was occurring here.
Business Insider has reached out to Perlmutter regarding the email. We will update this post if we hear back.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.