With “Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer” opening in movie theaters this Friday, June 10, The New York Times ran a story, yesterday, on movies for tween girls, Girls of a Certain Age Challenge Hollywood. Although books and book series written for tween girls do phenomenal business and are often best-sellers, the same does not hold true for their movie adaptations.
During the last few years, adaptations of tween classics such as Nancy Drew, Ramona and Beezus and Ella Enchanted were not hits at the box office. The NYT article delves into possible reasons for this disparity.
1. Preadolescence is a very awkward time period for a girl. They are not carefree children, nor are they angst-filled teenagers. Although the NYT only discusses the social anxieties of this age group, what is left unsaid is that this is the time period when girls often look their worst. Not cute anymore, but not sexy yet, as anyone who has ever been a tween girl can attest to, looking back at pictures from this time period is not fun.
2. Tween girls in movies are not usually portrayed realistically. They are either “sassy beyond their years”, tomboys, have mostly male friends and are often caricatures. The real difficulties of growing up are not shown in tween movies.
3. Tween girls want to watch movies about teenagers. They can’t wait to grow up and would rather watch what they are looking forward to.
What do you think? The tween market has become one of the biggest markets today for things like books, games and clothing, but the movies aren’t making money. I think what is happening is similar to what has always happened with adult movies. Males will not go to what they consider chick flicks, yet women will go to movies starring all males. So, if all kids go to kids movies that are gender neutral or boy oriented, but only girls go to girl movies, do the math. There really isn’t any mystery here at all.