Chick flick (also "chick's flick") is slang for a film designed to appeal to a female target audience. The term was first used in the 1980s , a decade during which such chick flicks as Beaches were released. Although many types of films may be directed toward the female gender, "chick flick" is typically used only in reference to films that are heavy with emotion or contain themes that are relationship-based (though not necessarily romantic and may not involve men). It is typically not used for high art, feminist subject matter, or romantic comedies intended for a wider audience (such as the 2005 film Wedding Crashers).
The concept of movies designed to appeal specifically to women has existed since the early days of cinema and has been known by other colloquial terms, including "women's pictures." However, women's films such as Brief Encounter, Now, Voyager, and Mildred Pierce and the 1950s melodramas directed by Douglas Sirk, such as All That Heaven Allows and Written on the Wind, it might be argued, are sufficiently different in tone and content to be seen as a sub-genre of women's films.
Film critic Molly Haskell suggested that chick flicks are very different from the women's films of the 1940s and '50s in that they now "sing a different tune." She feels that they are "more defiant and upbeat, post-modern and post-feminist."
Several chick flicks have been patterned after the story of Cinderella or other fairy tales (e.g. The Princess Diaries, A Cinderella Story, Ever After, and Pretty Woman), or even Shakespeare in the case of She's the Man; a large number are adapted from popular novels (e.g. The Devil Wears Prada) and literary classics (e.g. Little Women). Other prominent examples include Terms of Endearment and Steel Magnolias.