Little Women has been an iconic story ever since author Louisa May Alcott published it in 1868. It was one of the earliest novels adapted for film, with a silent movie version in 1917. Since then, a new adaptation has arrived every 20 years or so, almost like clockwork. Katharine Hepburn starred in the 1933 version as Jo, and Elizabeth Taylor played Amy in 1949. Most recently, the Winona Ryder-led 1994 adaptation was the first to be directed by a woman. Now, the new version looks ready to take its place in history, as these Little Women ratings suggest Greta Gerwig's vision is going to be a classic.
One reason Little Women remains so popular is the source material. The story features four sisters: There's responsible Meg, followed by rebellious Jo, then shy Beth, and finally, spoiled Amy. Each girl is both a well-rounded individual character while also embodying an archetypical girl, who can remind readers of their own sisters.
When the film adaptations stick to the source material, it's rare for critical failure to follow. The more Amy-centered 1949 version ranks lowest at 71% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, but that's still a very respectable number. Most land in the 90% range, like the 1933 version (94% fresh) and the 1994 one (92% fresh). The current Gerwig adaptation follows suit, ringing in at 95% fresh with 150 reviews logged on the first day that the review embargo had lifted.
Stephanie Zacharek of TIME Magazine hopes audiences take Alcott's message to heart.
It's a legacy not just of a great story and vividly drawn characters, but also of information: Alcott told us that it takes work and openness to know who you are, and when you figure it out, hang on for dear life.
Alison Willmore of New York Magazine feels it hits the realities of growing up as a woman.
It doesn't just brim with life, it brims with ideas about happiness, economic realities, and what it means to push against or to hew to the expectations laid out for one's gender.
And Lindsey Bahr of the Associated Press loves that Gerwig didn't update the story too much.
While no shortage of Little Women adaptations exist, Gerwig makes hers modern and sharp, while still adhering to its traditional roots.
With Little Women opening on Christmas, prognosticators are estimating the film will land somewhere in the $21 million range for the five-day sweep through Sunday, Dec. 29. But the movie's impression among some voters that it may not be considered a serious awards season contender is currently hurting box office chances.
Sony’s best case scenario is that Little Women gets such strong word of mouth that it helps it beat the perception among some male moviegoers that it’s not for them, turning them into converts. Hopefully, the Golden Globe and SAG snubs don’t have a domino effect and hurt its chances at multiple Oscar nominations, something that could boost the film’s numbers in January.
Little Women opens nationwide on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019.