Female-Led Movies

The results are in: female-led movies sell. For years, producers have assured us that female-driven films just don’t perform well at the box office. But if that was true once, times are changing. A new study finds that female-led movies outperformed male-led films at the box office between 2014 and 2017. Hopefully, the powers-that-be in Hollywood will take notice of this, and start giving the greenlight to even more female-driven flicks.

According to Variety, Creative Artists Agency and tech company Shift7 – a group that consists of producer Amy Pascal, Shift7 CEO Megan Smith, producer Liza Chasin, CAA Agent Alexandra Trustman and actress Geena Davis – ran a study that found “female-led films outperformed male-led films at all budget levels. The study grew out of the Time’s Up movement in a collaboration aiming to improve the portrayal of women in media and entertainment.”

Here’s how the study was conducted:

The analysis examined 350 top grossing films released between 2014 – 2017, categorized into five budget levels: under $10 million, $10 million – $30 million, $30 million – $50 million, $50 million – $100 million, and over $100 million. To be characterized as female-led, women had to be listed as the lead actor by being listed first in billing blocks, press notes, or distributor-issued final credits.

“This is powerful proof that audiences want to see everyone represented on screen,” said Amy Pascal. “Decision-makers in Hollywood need to pay attention to this.”

“I started commissioning data back in 2004, realizing there is so much unconscious bias in this space,” added Geena Davis. “The truth is that seeing women and girls on screen is not only good for everyone – especially our children – it’s also good entertainment and good business.”

The study also found that “every film that surpassed $1 billion in global box office also passed the Bechdel Test,” in which at least two women in a movie have a conversation about something other than a male character. “The Bechdel Test is a low bar to clear, and it’s surprising how many movies don’t clear it,” said Liz Chasin.  “Understandably, the studios think about the bottom line, so it’s great to see a growing body of data that should make it easier for executives to make more inclusive decisions.”

This is heartening to hear, but it will mean even more if more Hollywood producers take note, and start throwing their weight before more female-driven films. While no study is 100% perfect, there’s a strong indication here that audiences are craving more diverse films, and Hollywood has an obligation to give the people what they want. That’s what the business is all about (well, that, and making lots of money).

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