Congratulations, ladies, it’s happened. Hollywood has seen fit to trot out not just one, but TWO summer movies targeting (and starring) women over 50, 60 and 70. The first is Book Club, featuring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen. The second is Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Amazing, really, that it took seven years to return to the 2008 hit, Mamma Mia, considering the $609 million box office gross of the original. The sequel stars Meryl Streep as Donna, Cher, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski. The men return too, as everyone gathers to help Donna’s daughter (Amanda Seyfried) through her pregnancy.
The Book Club‘s storyline follows four long-time friends who begin to live life differently after reading Shades of Grey. As long as we don’t have to read Shades of Grey, we’re all on board with this movie. When interviewed about her role on Book Club and opening against the summer blockbusters, Candice Bergen, 71, is quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying, “And I think it’s so smart that they’re opening the film in the summer. Women are way underserved in the market, and I feel such a buzz from women of all ages over this — of course, older women, because nobody makes movies for them. I’m quite taken aback.”
“It’s rare to get an offer at all at my age,” Bergen noted. Candice Bergen, folks. Twenty time award winner with 53 nominations. How can she NOT get offers?
Uh, oh. There may be a small rant ahead.
Remember when good story telling was a thing that defied age? There have been box office smashes and summer movies for the non-teeny bopper, non-super hero set. Think Terms of Endearment and the love interest and family dynamics at play between Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson. Steel Magnolias flourished under the genius of Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Dolly Parton and Shirley MacLaine. Think It’s Complicated with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, or Bridges of Madison County with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.
Why does Hollywood suffer regular bouts of amnesia and forget to make great movies for the 50+? We’re not talking about movies that pander to our age group. We see right through that. We’re talking about good stories that share human experience from a perspective we can relate to.
What about TV shows? Who do the networks think watched The Golden Girls? Or Designing Women? (Dixie Carter was in her late 40s and early 50s during that show’s enormous success. And we know people of all ages who thought Dixie Carter’s Julia Sugarbaker was awe-inspiring.) The Will & Grace revival has been a huge hit, bringing back original cast members and garnering critical acclaim. (Debra Messing is 49, Megan Mullally who almost always steals the show is 59.)
Side note: As we approach the 30th anniversary of Murphy Brown, the hit TV show and role Bergen played for 10 years, we are happy to report CBS has committed to 13 episodes that will pick up in present day with much of its original cast – including Bergen. Maybe her dance card is filling up after all.
What about how underserved we women over 50 are in fashion? Only recently have designers begun sprinkling in models who are (gasp) over 40. Helmut Lang, Versace, Prada, and David Jones are a few of the design houses who’ve launched mature models down the runway of late. Good for them! Let’s support designers who support us.
One day, with enough voices raised and enough financial repercussions realized, advertisers, studios and designers will come to the conclusion they’ve been leaving a lot of dollars on the table. Prime Women 50 and over have a net worth of $19 trillion and possess more than three-fourths of the U.S.’s financial wealth.* Give us a reason to spend it, would you?
Now, let’s all go to the summer movies!
Book Club opens May 18th in the U.S. and June 1st in the U.K.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again opens July 20th in the U.S. and U.K.
*According to US Government Consumer Expenditure Survey.
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