A recent issue of Entertainment Weekly featured a story titled "Would You Dump This Woman?" (beside a full-page close up photo of Michelle Pfeiffer) to open an article detailing the twisted saga of how I Could Never Be Your Woman was made. The film started out as a modest romantic comedy with two bankable stars (Pfeiffer and Judd Apatow go-to, Paul Rudd) from a well-known director (Amy Heckerling of Clueless and Fast Times at Ridgemont High) but through an alarming number of bad producing decisions and ego plays wound up being declared a failure before it ever opened theatrically and sent to dvd.
EW's Missy Schwartz, while not giving producer Phillipe Martinez a pass on his bad choices, accepts MGM's excuses that a film centered on a middle-aged woman simply cannot be marketed and without the dvd and television sales (Martinez had parsed all ancillary rights to Miramax) to cushion the inevitable box office blow, the $15M production budget as well as any marketing costs would be completely lost.
Schwartz also blithely states that Pfeiffer has "been MIA since 2002's White Oleander", uhm don't tell that to anyone who saw Hairspray or Stardust (totaling $335M worldwide).
This "Dumped" article is also published just one week after the New York Times ran its piece "Direct to DVD Releases Shed Their Loser Label" about how lucrative the dvd market can be for films with budgets around $10M.
But writers like Schwartz would also do well to remember the critical duds like Crash and Must Love Dogs that became enormous commercial successes ($156M worldwide) bolstered by women Michelle Pfeiffer's age. Each of these films' successes were followed by a crush of news articles about what a surprise it was that women over 30 go to the movies. All the more audacious considering the article is run in the same issue that declares that Juno heralds a return of the "girl anti-hero" (hinting that every striking writer is going home at night and working on a script to hit the moody, pregnant teenage girl rom-com jackpot). Tacitly telling women, "enjoy these stories now because as soon as your clock strikes thirty you go back to being a pumpkin."
I Could Never Be Your Woman will be available on a bare-bones dvd February 12th. See the trailer.