One Woman is Still Questioning Why ‘Jennifer’s Body’ Failed

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I can understand exactly where i09‘s Annalee Newitz is coming from when she writes “Did Stupid Marketing Kill Jennifer’s Body?” even if I think she is beating a dead horse. We all have movies we either like or love that we wish more people would have seen and supported. The thought behind this is that if they prove to be successful hopefully the studios will begin making more just like them. Instead, people flock to endless sequels to Saw and superhero movies.

Annalee’s argument relating to Jennifer’s Body revolves around the idea Fox simply marketed the movie to the wrong demo — boys. Instead, what they should have done was recognize the film’s strong female driven premise and market it toward the gender that makes up over 60% of horror movie audiences — women.

I didn’t connect to the film in any way, but apparently that has to do with the fact I am a male, as pointed out by Scarlet Scribe at I Went There saying:

And why don’t [males] understand the film? Because it’s one of the very few honest-to-goodness feminist films out there – and more so then being feminist, it’s one of the few films that views things from a female lens. Boys are there, and make up the majority of the victims in this body horror film, but they’re not a concern. For once we have a story with female main characters who aren’t obsessing about, fighting over, or bitching about boys every five minutes. Jennifer’s Body is about women and how they relate to each other, the horror moments are there for style and allegory, but at its heart the movie is about two girls whose own toxic friendship is eating them both alive.

Okay, that sounds reasonable, I don’t mind not being the target audience, nor do I mind not understanding a film, especially if it doesn’t speak to me. However, I think Annalee’s argument that the film failed because the marketing didn’t manage to speak to this feminist audience is a bit of a stretch. After all, if 60% of a horror film’s audience is made up of women wouldn’t you be more inclined to try and appeal to the male base, which based on statistics needs to be enticed?

Annalee writes:

I think it’s clear that misguided marketing was a huge factor in what destroyed Jennifer’s Body. As I said, the movie isn’t Criterion Collection material, but it’s a damn good genre picture. It’s better than most other horror movies out there, with an original premise and a smart, fresh take on a very old monster story. If the marketing droids at Fox had just been smart enough to realize that the movie was aimed at women – not unlike most horror movies – they might have had a cult hit on their hands.

What she doesn’t seem to understand is that Fox does have “a cult hit on their hands.” A cult film is a movie with a highly devoted, yet very specific, group of fans and is typically a film that acquires this audience over a period of time and certainly not at the box-office.

Donnie Darko made $517,375 at the box-office; The Big Lebowski managed $17 million; Office Space made $10 million; Clerks made $3 million; The Shawshank Redemption (IMDb’s #1 user rated movie) only made $28 million. The $14 million Jennifer’s Body has managed smells like a huge cult classic should the female drum beat loud enough. Perhaps females around the world will be snatching up this DVD and rest it right in-between their copies of Clueless and Terminator.

Annalee brings up a quote from director Karyn Kusama who told MTV, “I don’t know if selling the film as a straight horror film and selling it primarily to boys is really going to do any of us any favors, frankly.” Of course, this was a tactic used based on the assumed perception that males will line-up to see Megan Fox. The trailers showed her strutting her stuff and with an R-rating and the suggestive marketing just maybe, maybe she’ll get naked.

Hell, during her PR tour Fox turned up at the “Tonight Show” with Conan O’Brien and the one clip they showed was the girl-on-girl smooch scene, a scene that played a major role in the marketing. I would argue against Annalee simply saying Fox didn’t miss the boat by marketing the film to boys, they missed the boat by marketing the film as a soft core horror porn.

Megan Fox just isn’t the male draw marketers believe her to be. Even more, I think she is one of the main reasons females would stay away from this film. There isn’t a female in my life that has ever spoken of Fox in a positive light in my presence and while watching her with Conan, my sister texted me to say, “Megan Fox is the stupidest person I have ever listened to.” It was the first time she had ever heard her speak.

A yellow rose goes undelivered

She doesn’t appeal to an R-rated 17-and-older male audience because they have their “MEGAN FOX NAKED TOPLESS LESBIAN” Google searches to satisfy their needs and women are tired of reading quotes from her such as her latest Rolling Stone revelation in which she says, “Men are scared of powerful, confident vaginas. But I wasn’t born with a special vagina.” Megan Fox with short shorts and collagen filled lips merely serves as the cherry on top of a Transformers sundae; young boys delivering flowers are sure to swoon, but the rest of the demo is pretty much over it.

So, if 20th Century Fox tried marketing Jennifer’s Body to a core female audience, focusing on the story of a “popular, pretty girl who pretends to be your friend while secretly trying to steal your boyfriend, your pride, and your life” and featuring the shapely Megan Fox just who exactly is going to be turning out to see it, ushering in gang-buster box-office returns? I would say if they had marketed it that way the film would have been an even bigger bust as the core male audience would have been even less interested than they already seemed to have been, the Fox hating females wouldn’t have gone any way and the feminist crowd would have probably still been wary.

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Weekend: Jun. 20, 2019, Jun. 23, 2019

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