It’s no secret that the number of prevalent women in the Hollywood movie industry – particularly, those involved behind the scenes – could be more. Currently, men still dominate most of the industry, from directing to producing to other key roles. Even in front of the screen, we see more male characters lead action films, comedies, horror flicks, and other genres. A recent study, however, shows a positive shift towards the presence of women behind the scenes.
As per a study conducted by researchers from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, women made up almost 11% of the directors who helmed the top 100 films in 2019. Additionally, among the 113 directors attached to these films, 12 of them were women, which is more than the 8 of 2018’s box office hits.
Furthermore, as the researchers analyzed all of the top films within the past 12 years, they found that from 4.8% of all the directors who led all those movies, the percentage of female directors went up to 10.6% in 2019. They were also quite prolific in movies that weren’t box office hits, with films from major studios under the direction of more women last 2019 compared to before. In fact, 15% of the directors of said movies were women.
This, combined with the increase of critically-acclaimed and successful female-directed movies (“Frozen II”, “Captain Marvel”, and “Hustlers” come to mind), may bode well for the future of women in cinema. Previously, men were given more opportunities to headline a wide range of movies while women were given less.
Today, not only are we seeing a rise of films directed by women, but we’re even seeing films with female protagonists directed by women as well. Just this 2020, we’ll be having female superhero films such as “Wonder Woman 1984”, “Black Widow”, and “Birds of Prey.” This is a win in a movie genre where women are typically sidelined. We also have Marvel’s “The Eternals”, an ensemble film with a diverse cast directed by Chloe Zao, showing that women can also direct films that aren’t necessarily centered on a sole female protagonist.
Still, this doesn’t mean the fight is over. Though this news does see improvement in terms of the numbers, a mere 12 women out of 113 directors of top films still shows an imbalance between the two genders. And that’s just out of the top 100, as a separate Celluloid Ceiling report found that if you analyzed the top 500 2019 films, women behind the scenes were still outnumbered four to one. In general, women are still not given much opportunities behind the camera, while men continue to dominate blockbusters.
It’s not too negative, however. Slowly, but surely, the film industry is making steps to ensure that women and other minorities are represented both in front and behind the camera. For professionals and viewers alike, the best thing we can do to keep this going is to fight and speak up. Let your voice be heard, whether by directors, actors, or the higher-ups. It will be a long and grueling fight and protest, but when more women are afforded opportunities and a place on the director’s seat, such efforts will be worth it.
(Bloomberg, The New York Times, International Business Times, The Hollywood Reporter)