Pin It
Lady Bird
Images courtesy of Universal Pictures

Films starring women are outperforming movies led by men

A new study helped by Time’s Up found that women dominate global box-office hit roles

The 350 highest grossing films from 2014-2017 all had something in common: they all had women leads.

A new report compiled by research agency Shift7, CAA (a leading talent agency) and created in conjunction with a Time’s Up working group revealed staggering figures from the last few years in cinema. The organisation compiled data from the most commercially successful movies over a three year period, and discovered that out of 350, 105 had women in prominent roles. Those 105 flicks also passed the Bechdel Test – meaning that they included at least two female characters talking about something other than men. The agency discovered that the films which met both the Bechdel and women-starring criteria made more money in ticket sales, and did better than the remaining 245 films which had male protagonists.

What’s interesting to note is that although men seemingly controlled the screen by taking up more space as stars, the works which featured women and also passed the Bechdel Test came out commercially on top.

In a statement to the GuardianCAA representative Christy Haubegger comments on this phenomenon and what seems to be audiences wanting more authentic stories of women. “Women comprise half the box office, yet there has been an assumption in the industry that female-led films led were generally less successful. We found that the data does not support that assumption.”

Haubegger also told the New York Times that she believed the greater success of films starring women and people of colour relates to the demand for fresher storylines. “You’ve got superhero fans that haven’t seen innovation in superhero movies in 36 years,” she said.

Hopefully, film executives and producers will look at this research and gear more films around diverse experiences.

FYI: The films which cleared this Bechdel blockbuster bar include the most recent Star Wars (The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and Rogue One), Jurassic World, and Beauty and the Beast

“This analysis affirms data showing that diversity has a positive impact on a company's bottom line,” said Lisa Borders, Time’s Up president and chief executive. “As studios consider their fiduciary responsibilities to their investors, these findings offer a clear approach to delivering the best results.”