There's been plenty of writing done about whether movies with female leads do well at the box office. Those pieces, however, are usually speculative, based on individual test cases or sound bites from film executives. But for a refreshing change, FiveThirtyEight has actually reviewed the data, miraculously concluding that even with shitty budgets, female-centric films do just fine.
Walt Hickey and the FiveThirtyEight team looked at over 1,500 films released between 1990 and 2013 and found "that films that feature meaningful interactions between women may in fact have a better return on investment, overall, than films that don't." They concluded that these movies don't gross less money than others; movies that passed the Bechdel Test made $2.68 for every dollar that was spent on them, while movies that failed it made only $2.45.
The best thing about this piece and its very nice charts is that it pokes holes in the assumed notion that movies featuring women don't do well internationally, which is why many studio executives claim they're resistant to releasing movies about women. Movies that passed the Bechdel Test, movies where women don't talk to each other at all and movies where there were fewer than two women all made $1.17 overseas per every dollar spent. Movies where women only talk about men actually did worse overseas – they made only $1.06.
What's even more impressive is that films that passed the Bechdel Test were able to do decently at the box office (whether in the United States or overseas) with budgets that were 35 percent lower than movies that failed the test. What is that saying about doing more with less or necessity being the mother of invention or maybe just stop making up reasons you won't commit money to projects instead of just admitting you're uncreative and scared of change?
Image via Walt Disney Pictures