Chances are high that when reading a review for Olivia Wilde’s acclaimed feature debut “Booksmart” a comparison was made between the director’s female-driven high school comedy and the R-rated comedy classic “Superbad.” The endless comparisons between “Booksmart” and “Superbad” were impossible to ignore, so much so that Wilde herself couldn’t escape them. In a recent interview with Yahoo Entertainment (via The Playlist), Wilde shared mixed feelings about how her film was constantly put in the shadow of another male-dominated comedy.
“I mean, hopefully, we get to a point where every female movie doesn’t have to become the female version of a male film, but I loved ‘Superbad,’” Wilde said. “I mean, in a certain sense, I’m like, we should be so lucky. I fucking love that movie. It’s amazing. But I did feel that we should stand alone. Hopefully, that’s a kind of pattern that we’ll grow out of. Movies don’t have to be the female version of anything. You know? And one day there will be a male ‘Booksmart.'”
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Wilde also spoke briefly about the inherent sexism that exists in the way comedy films are perceived. Annapurna infamously opened “Booksmart” in theaters nationwide over Memorial Day weekend and the indie struggled to find its financial footing despite earning some of the best reviews of 2019. “Booksmart” opened to $6.9 million and finished its summer box office run with $22 million. Fellow summer comedy “Good Boys” nearly matched “Booksmart” in its opening weekend alone ($21 million). The success of the male-led “Good Boys” and the struggle of “Booksmart” had many discussing the uphill battle that still faces female-led comedies. Yahoo asked Wilde to weigh in on the matter and she agreed the comedy genre remains male-driven.
“Listen, I think it’s two-fold. I think, on the one hand, the very simple answer is [‘Good Boys’] had Universal Studios behind it,” Wilde said. “It’s not an indie. That was a Universal Studios movie. They have a massive marketing machine, and they’re incredibly good at it.”
Wilde continued, “I also think that, you know, people are more accustomed to male-dominated comedies and there is still a certain reluctance to believe that women can make you laugh as hard. And that still exists, which is sort of nuts to you and me…But there’s still a lot of work to be done to say, like, hey, this is not a male-dominated game.”
“Booksmart” may have disappointed, but the reviews have turned Wilde into one of the breakout filmmakers of 2019. Wilde has already lined up her follow-up project, a 1950s-set psychological thriller titled “Don’t Worry Darling.”