Answer: This relatively unheralded thriller starring Ashley Judd shocked Hollywood by topping the box office for three weeks, becoming a lock for an eventual $100 million gross.
Question: What is Double Jeopardy?
”We thought it was going to be successful,” says Rob Friedman, vice chair of the Paramount Motion Picture Group, Jeopardy‘s studio. ”But this successful? No.” What no one counted on: a female audience eager to see a good take-revenge-on-your-evil-husband romp. To date, women have made up 60 percent of Jeopardy‘s $66 million take. ”It’s suspense, which men like,” says Tom Borys of box office tracking firm ACNielsen EDI, Inc. ”But the empowered heroine drew women. It worked both sides of the equation.”
While Hollywood has courted distaff moviegoers for some time, it’s mostly relied on traditional ”chick flick” staples like romances and teen stories. Jeopardy‘s jackpot proves that hear-me-roar films may be an untapped market. ”Strong female leads in suspense films are appealing now,” says Borys. Though it’s too early to see what Jeopardy will spawn, it bodes well for several upcoming actioners. Among them: The Bone Collector, with Angelina Jolie as a cop; The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, with Milla Jovovich as the titular power girl; and Lost Souls, with Winona Ryder out to beat the devil.
Meanwhile, Jeopardy has especially empowered one woman: Judd. After this and 1997’s Kiss the Girls, which made over $60 million, sources say her asking price will jump to about $8 million, putting her in Drew Barrymore’s league. ”This is going to go a ways toward making her bankable,” Borys says. ”Her agent will be happy to make a case with this film, no doubt.”