The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will own the box office this weekend. And next weekend. And maybe even the weekend after, if a certain furry hobbit doesn't ruin its plans.
And it's going to do this with -- gasp! -- a female lead.
Katniss Everdeen is a cool action hero. She's got style with a bow and arrow, and Jennifer Lawrence provides her with appropriate amounts of vulnerability and bad-assery. People love Lawrence -- mostly because she tripped over her dress at the Oscars and laughed, but still.
When The Hunger Games film series is finished, she will be on (if not at the top of) the short list of female action film heroes, along with Ellen Ripley, Wonder Woman and The Bride from Kill Bill.
Meanwhile, the rest of her Hollywood sisters will still be floating around in the flotsam and jetsam that is the male-dominated modern-day film landscape, where alpha-men reign and where 90 percent of female characters are either witless damsels or, if they're lucky, wordless assassin sidekicks.
Are there no female movie stars anymore? Or, are there just not enough interesting roles for these actresses to fill?
Out of the 82 movies I've seen so far this year (trust me -- not as fun as it sounds), I counted five where the success of the film depended on its lead actress:
Gravity, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Heat, Identity Thief, The Call (I'll also include Blue Jasmine, which I haven't seen yet).
So, what? Are Lawrence, Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy and Halle Berry the only females on Earth capable of carrying a profitable movie that people want to watch?
Every year, there's one or two of these movies that come out with a female perspective and make a lot of money -- think Juno or Bridesmaids. And instead of saying, "Hmm, maybe people want to see women in movies. Maybe we shouldn't exclude half our potential audience. I suppose Gone With The Wind -- the freaking highest-grossing movie of all time, inflation-adjusted -- had a female lead. Why shouldn't we?," film studios continue to relegate women to the Lois Lanes and Glinda the Good Witches of the movie world.
Why? Simple: Men run the show. They're the ones writing these wish-fulfillment fantasies with super-cool, strong guys being the heroes, saving women from super-villains and indecent proposals. They're the ones with all the money power in Hollywood, and they're the ones who are allowed to grace the world with their presence in front of and behind the camera.
Guess how many of the top 50 box office movies this year were directed by a woman. It's not a trick question.
In a couple weeks, Lawrence will be laughing all the way to the bank. Hopefully, in the near future, other women will get the opportunity to do the same.
Follow Pete McQuaid on Twitter and Tout @sweetestpete.