Disney CEO Says 40% Of The Studio's Upcoming Movies Are Directed By Women

Time's Up issued a challenge this week that has already seen the support of at least 50 high-profile producers and actors and one major studio. The challenge: to commit to hiring at least one female director in the next 18 months in an effort to push Hollywood toward greater diversity behind the camera in addition to in front of it. Named after the statistic that only 4% of the top 100 studio films in the last decade were directed by women, the 4% Challenge made major inroads yesterday when Universal became the first major Hollywood studio to commit to it.

Now one of the biggest major studios, Walt Disney Pictures, is addressing the 4% Challenge with claims that it has already won.

Disney CEO Bob Iger responded to the 4% Challenge Wednesday not with a promise to commit, as many would have expected, but with a claim that "40% of Disney Studios' upcoming movie slate is being directed by women and we are striving for more!"

Not exactly a clear-cut commitment to the 4% Challenge, but if Disney has already won, maybe that won't be necessary. But let's unpack that claim, shall we?

According to Box Office Mojo, about 50 upcoming feature film releases are slated by Disney, with the vast majority of them untitled and without any announced information. However, there are a few that we know to have female directors:

  • Captain Marvel (2019): Co-directed by Anna Boden with Ryan Fleck.
  • The One and Only Ivan (TBD): Directed by Thea Sharrock (Me Before You).
  • Mulan (2020): Directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider).
  • Frozen 2 (2019): Co-directed by Jennifer Lee with Chris Buck.
  • Stargirl (TBD): Directed by Julia Hart (Fast Color).
  • That's five films we know of that will directed by women out of the 50 upcoming films. Two of those films will be co-directed productions, while the final one, Stargirl, is set to debut on the House of Mouse's streaming platform Disney+. It should be noted that Box Office Mojo's list doesn't include all the films slated for Disney+, there may be even more upcoming Disney films on the way.

    It's hard to completely fact-check Iger's number when we don't have enough information about all those untitled films, but it seems they are at least holding to the Time's Up challenge of hiring at least one female director in the next 18 months. However, Iger's language is a somewhat frustratingly smug — yes you've made more progress than many studios, but rather than patting yourself on the back, why not throw in your support for the Time's Up challenge? Disney's support would be monumental for this movement.