“I saw The Counselor at a theater in Silver Spring, Maryland,” writes Boxoffice.com‘s Phil Contrino. “The crowd was with the movie for most of the duration. I could tell they were genuinely wondering what would happen next and the soon-to-be infamous car scene with Cameron Diaz generated real laughs. But the film’s momentum died when it became crystal clear that a certain female character was not going to make it out alive. It reminded me of the reaction to Drive when I saw that with a paying audience. The crowd was with it right up to the point when Ryan Gosling punches Christina Hendricks.

“The lesson here is simple: women are driving the box office in a considerable way and they don’t want to see bad things happening to female characters. They are sick of the woman-as-victim, damsel-in-distress idea. They want to watch movies about strong women who overcome obstacles, and Hollywood would be wise to give them more of that instead of relying on tired story arcs that treat women as disposable secondary characters.”

My spoiler-including response: “I think McCarthy’s script is up to a lot more than just following tired story arcs. I hear what you’re saying (the room was pretty cold when I saw it with a paying crowd) but you’re describing the reactions of children. This is one reason why Gravity is so big (‘Go, Sandy…we’re with you!’) but I think this is also roughly analagous to women not liking Hamlet because of Ophelia’s suicide. In the script the body of [the unnamed actress] is headless when it tumbles off the back of the truck — at least Ridley Scott kept her head attached.”