A group of prominent men’s rights activists have claimed that they cost Star Wars: The Force Awakens more than $4 million at the worldwide box office after their reporting criticized the film’s stance on diversity.
David Garrett, of Return of Kings, wrote that a Twitter poll of his fellow men’s rights activists revealed a significant financial impact on Star Wars as a result of the site’s articles on the film.
“Fifty-five percent of respondents to a Return of Kings Twitter poll have said that online reporting of the social justice nature of The Force Awakens influenced their decision whether to see the film. Extended across our readership, with over 900,000 users accessing ROK between November 21 and December 21, this amounts to a potential direct impact of $4,219,456.54 (55% x $8.38 x 915,482) on total revenues. $8.38 is based on the average cinema ticket price in the US, which is now an all-time high.”
The Return of Kings website, a haven for men’s rights activists, published several reviews of The Force Awakens throughout December, in which they took aim at the casting of a woman and a black man in the two central roles.
One Star Wars review on the site for men’s rights activists dubbed Daisy Ridley’s Rey a “Mary Sue,” and John Boyega’s Finn a “glorified white knight.”
The Star Wars battleship has forged a brutal course through multiplexes, sinking box office records on an almost daily basis. Forbes, in fact, pointed out that, even if the bizarre mathematics deployed by men’s rights activists held true, their figure would still be a minor one in terms of The Force Awakens‘ overall box office performance.
“As of New Years Eve, The Force Awakens is enjoying a $629 million box-office domestically (topping The Avengers) with it racing past the $761 domestic box office of Avatar by next week. Globally, the new Star Wars is sitting pretty at $1.29 billion and change. And the movie will be in theaters for many more weeks, sending all these numbers even higher. Even if the Return of Kings Twitter poll is accurate (pro-tip: Twitter polls are never accurate) and the website helped prevent $4.2 million in ticket sales, that’s not even a drop in the massive Star Wars bucket. It’s actually an embarrassingly tiny drop, if anything.”
Men’s rights activists, however, have not been the only people to question the portrayal of Daisy Ridley’s character in the film. Screenwriter Max Landis, best known for Chronicle and Victor Frankenstein, criticised Rey in a series of tweets, before elaborating in a YouTube video.
The men’s rights activists movement arose online following the increasing prominence of feminist views in the public sphere. They are publicly opposed to the actions of “social justice warriors” — a pejorative term used to attack those who the movement sees to be forcing an anti-male, anti-white ideology.
The Force Awakens is not the first of 2015’s biggest films to have provoked the ire of men’s rights activists online. Earlier in the year, Mad Max: Fury Road was savaged by Return of Kings, as recounted by the Hollywood Reporter, for foregrounding Charlize Theron’s Furiosa character rather than Tom Hardy’s eponymous road warrior. Fury Road was said to be designed to “force a lecture on feminism down your throat.”
As was the case with Star Wars, men’s rights activists were urged to boycott Fury Road. That film went on to scoop in excess of $350 million worldwide. Star Wars has already made more than $1.5 billion at the time of writing.
Diversity is increasingly a major part of mainstream Hollywood, whether men’s rights activists like it or not.
[Photo by Hu Chengwei/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios]