When To all the boys I've loved before It premiered on Netflix in 2018 and was instantly hailed as a romantic comedy sensation. Critics focused much of that recognition on the film's director, Susan Johnson, who set the story off with her jubilant tone and turned her eye to smaller details like the production design of Lara Jean & # 39; s (Lana Condor) house, which was curated to represent the figure's Asian heritage.
When Johnson pulled out of directing the sequel due to previous engagements, the reins were turned over to a male director, Michael Fimognari – a move that arguably resulted in a decrease in returns from the inferior final chapters of the franchise. The To All the Boys series, however, is just one example of a frustrating pattern in the film industry: female directors create female-centric romance franchises with strong first rates, only to be booted to make room for male successors.
The women directors who inaugurated many of today's romantic giants gave up directing the sequels of their first entries under significantly less cordial circumstances than Johnson. Catherine Hardwicke, who delighted hordes of female fans dusk& # 39; s blue-tinged teenage fear has been thrown off new moon after alleged clashes with executives at Summit Entertainment. Sam Taylor-Johnson (below on the set of fifty shades of gray) Made millions at the box office fifty shades of gray, but Universal refused to offer her the sequel, given Taylor-Johnson's ongoing creative differences with writer EL James.
Despite efforts to increase opportunities for women directors in the film industry, the latest franchisees are not immune to this trend: Jenny Gages After this opened at # 1 in 17 countries, but Gage was inexplicably banned After we crashed in favor of the new director Roger Kumble.
The sideline of these filmmakers is part of a larger, more troubling story in Hollywood. Aside from being a hostile environment for women directors in general – women made only 16 percent of the top 100 grossing films in 2020 – the film industry appears to attribute society's widespread disdain for any property that primarily appeals to women . Studios often underestimate the attractiveness of films with a female focus, save on marketing campaigns for romances, and react in disbelief to their financial gains when women still buy tickets and lead these films to success. And these "surprise" box office hits, apparently because they are viewed as minor artistic endeavors, rarely lead to future opportunities for women directors.
It took Hardwicke and Taylor-Johnson every three years to release another film after their first job. In a 2013 interview, Hardwicke shrewdly summed it up: "Twilight made $ 400 (million). It started a multi-billion dollar franchise. Why wasn't I offered another movie after that?"
Mind you, traits aimed at men, even those considered "guilty pleasures", will almost never receive this degrading treatment. When male directors make a hit – Anthony and Joe Russo, for example Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Michael Bay & # 39; s Transformer – It will be recognized as such, and filmmakers will then receive a number of sequels and a blank check for future projects. (It's worth noting that Bay had nothing but bad press about his attitude on set and interacting with female stars, but he has made five Transformers films – yes, even then.)
The creative decision to move romance franchises down to men isn't just frustrating as it ignores the perspective of the genre's main audience, women. Romances, especially those with teenage protagonists, focus on feminine youth and desire. They serve as fun, formative outlets for their female fans – which is why they are noticeably more lovable when a woman creates the narrative behind the camera.
Of course, it is possible for men to stage such stories compassionately and skillfully. Identity isn't the only arbiter of cinematic skill. Unfortunately, male approaches to the "female experience" are mostly characterized by hackneyed condescension: We have to thank the author and director Vince Marcello for the blatantly signed protagonist of The kissing booth and the show's nerve-wracking, sexist sensibility. It makes no sense to exclude women filmmakers from a decidedly feminine space – especially when the alternative is a script that repeatedly jumps through made-up hoops to undress its teenage lead.
Hopefully the studios learn from mistakes like this. The third film in the after series, After we fellhired a filmmaker, Castille Landon. A number of upcoming romance films, including Marry me and Cinderella, are also judged by women. However, it is not enough for studios to give women the first jump into a large franchise in order to later "legitimize" their achievements by giving creative control to a man. Women directors deserve to be rewarded for starting a profitable romance. When that change happens, audiences will witness a more inclusive industry – and much better sequels.