The myth that films helmed by leading ladies don’t sell at the box office is tired, distracting, convenient for most industry gatekeepers, and, as a new study demonstrates, inaccurate.
Deadline reported on Tuesday that in a new study from CAA and tech firm Shift7 researchers analyzed 350 films released between January 2014 and December 2017 across five budget categories ranging from below $10 million to over $100 million. Of these, 105 were determined to be led by women, the rest by men.
The study found that in the highest budget brackets the margin by which women-led films out-earned their male counterparts was greatest (women-fronted films dominated each category). Movies that cost between $50 million and $100 million to produce grossed an average of $318 million for women-led films compared to $243 million for men-led films. For films with a budget above $100 million the breakdown was $586 million to $514 million with women on top.
CAA researcher Christy Haubegger said in a statement, “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.”
Amy Pascal, who served as president of Sony Pictures Entertainment until 2015, said of the study, “This is powerful proof that audiences want to see everyone represented on screen. Decision-makers in Hollywood need to pay attention to this.”
Does this solve all of Hollywood’s inequalities and ills, or make consumption under capitalism ethical? Haha, no. Is it a useful tool for helping to ensure more money makes its way to women so they can make astounding, beautiful art? I really hope so!