2018 Study: Women-Character-Centric Movies Outperform Male-Centric Character Movies
by Yohana Desta
A new study also found that movies that pass the Bechdel Test have performed better than movies that don’t.
This may come as a shock, but movies starring women do well at the box office. Really well. So well that a new study from the Creative Artists Agency and Shift7, in conjunction with the anti–sexual harassment organization Time’s Up, found that female-led movies dominated the box office from 2014 to 2017.
In addition, movies that passed the Bechdel Test—you know, the simple measurement that asks whether two named-female characters on-screen talk to each other about something other than a man—performed better at the box office than movies that didn’t pass the test.
“The perception that it’s not good business to have female leads is not true,” said Christy Haubegger, a C.A.A. agent who was part of the research team, in an interview with The New York Times. “They’re a marketing asset.”
This is yet another myth-busting piece of data refuting the old stereotype that studios often use as an excuse for not green-lighting female-led films.
It’s especially fascinating in the wake of a 2017 study by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at U.C.L.A., which analyzed the top releases in 2015 and found that films with more people of color in their casts performed better at the box office than films with fewer people of color. Similarly, TV shows earned higher ratings if they had more diverse casts.
by Dave McNarry, December 11, 2018
Female-led movies outperformed male-led titles at the worldwide box office during the 2014-17 period, a study released Tuesday showed.
Creative Artists Agency and technology company Shift7 said that the analysis found that 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.
The group is led by producer and former Sony Pictures Chairman Amy Pascal, Shift7 CEO Megan Smith and producer Liza Chasin. It includes CAA Agent Alexandra Trustman and Geena Davis.
“This is powerful proof that audiences want to see everyone represented on screen,” said Pascal. “Decision-makers in Hollywood need to pay attention to this.”
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.
The report also noted that every film that surpassed $1 billion in global box office also passed the Bechdel Test, in which (1) the film has to have at least two women in it; (2) the two women speak to one another in the film; and (3) they speak about something other than a man.
“The Bechdel Test is a low bar to clear, and it’s surprising how many movies don’t clear it,” said 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.”