After the success of Bridesmaids (2011) actress Melissa McCarthy and director Paul Feig had a partnership for several film projects. Though the budgets for their projects grew over time, they also moved away from the bi-modal marketing style we saw for bridesmaids and leaned more heavily on genre tropes for the subsequent movies which include The Heat (2013), Spy (2015) and Ghostbusters (2016).
To avoid being perceived as “just a chick flick”, Bridesmaids was seemingly marketed separately to male and female audiences . This can easily be seen in the two poster styles for the movie. The brick background gives the poster a tougher more urban edge. The other poster is a more traditional color appeal to the romantic comedy genre. Additionally, the choice to include the mention of Superbad and quotes such as, “Chick flicks don’t have to suck!”, on the brick background posters speaks to an audience that would believe that women’s films, or “chick flicks” would not be worth the time to consume. The apparent effectiveness of this marketing campaign may have resulted from its bi-modal audience-targeting strategy that highlighted, and even helped to constitute, the hybrid genre (bromance and chick flick) of the film.
In McCarthy and Feig’s subsequent movies, The Heat, Spy, and Ghostbusters there is no longer clear separation of targeted audiences. Instead, the marketing leans heavily on genre tropes and homages. The action and spy genres were previously (and still) dominated by men and in the case of Ghostbusters, it is a remake of a movie that originally had an all-male cast. Despite any feminist content in the films themselves, the marketing, particularly the posters, promote the movies as comedies of gender reversal.
These movies ultimately play to the male audience. None of them did quite as well as Bridesmaids and the studios began to think Bridesmaids was an anomaly (Fallon, 2013). Producer, Linda Obst said, “You sell a movie to men because women will go anyway—you won’t lose a single female viewer” (Fallon, 2013, para. 16). Ignoring the female audience and their motivations for seeing a film, marketing instead to men, symbolically erases the female audience.
Fallon, K. (2013). ‘The heat’ will be a hit, but not a game-changer. Retrieved from https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-heat-will-be-a-hit-but-not-a-game-changer