Photo: Industrial Light & MMXIV Paramount Pictures Corporation
The top movies from 2014 to 2017 starring women earned more than the movies starring men, according to research released yesterday from the Creative Artists Agency and shift7. It doesn’t matter whether the movies were made for less than $10 million or for more than $100 million—it all added up just the same: The women-led movies did better.
The study analyzed 350 films with budgets listed on Gracenote, with 105 led by women and 245 led by men. The study determined the “lead actor” as the person listed first on Gracenote, a data and technology provider owned by Nielsen. According to this scale, both Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi were designated male-led films, with Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill listed as the leads rather than Daisy Ridley. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles listed Megan Fox as the lead, and Trolls listed Anna Kendrick as the lead.
The data was also categorized by budget size to assess whether the findings applied across the board—and they did. In each bracket, the average earnings for female-led films surpassed the earnings for male-led films.
The research also found that films that passed the Bechdel test—which measures instances when two female characters have a conversation about something other than a man—outperformed those that flunked it. Movies that pass the Bechdel test include Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Incredibles 2, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
But despite all of this, females comprised only 24 percent of sole protagonists in the top-grossing 100 films last year, according to statistics from Women and Hollywood. Women also played only 37 percent of major characters and 34 percent of all speaking characters, and 74 percent of all major female characters were white.
It’s time to make more female-led movies WITH equal pay and more diversity. The proof is in the pudding.