Movies starring women earn more at the box office, study says
Are we really surprised?
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There's a popular misconception that movies with female leads (or geared toward women, or made by women) aren't as interesting to the public at large. Disheartening results of the Bechdel Test—in which two female characters must have a conversation that has to do with anything other than a man—in past successful films have led many people to believe that women don't bring in box office results. But, it turns out, films starring women are more successful than those starring men.
A new study released by Creative Artists Agency and digital strategist Shift7 reveals that out of the 350 top-grossing films released from 2014 to 2017, those that starred women earned more on average than those that starred men, regardless of the budget. The data also indicates that films that pass the Bechdel Test actually surpass the box office returns of films that fail this test. Is your mind blown?
Because we still live in a world of gender imbalance, however, only 40% of the 350 films used in the dataset passed the Bechdel Test—a very low bar—and less than a third of the films were female-led.
The study aims to hit Hollywood where it really hurts, which is unfortunately not its morality, but its wallet. Hopefully the fact that all films grossing more than US$1 billion in box office revenue since 2012 have passed the Bechdel Test will encourage filmmakers to think differently about their female roles.
The agency isn't just concerned with female representation either. In 2017, they released a report indicating that movies with multi-ethnic casts performed better on opening weekends than those without, meaning there is a positive correlation between global box office returns and racial diversity.
There's still a long way to go, and the question now is if/when people will start listening to the numbers. The number of female protagonists with speaking roles in top films reportedly dropped in 2017 from the previous year, so the battle remains uphill.
Women are actually a marketing asset! What a surprise, considering they make up half the population...
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