This Will Only Surprise Hollywood, But Women Are Box Office Gold

Photo: Collection Christophel/Alamy Stock Photo.
It is no question that the narratives depicted in cinema have been more subversive than ever. And we have women to thank for that.
While the majority of today’s films still feature male protagonists, results from a study conducted in collaboration between Creative Artists Agency and shift7 reveal that movies with female leads have dominated global box offices since 2014. The research also demonstrates how films that passed the Bechdel Test — which measures how often two or more women in a movie speak about something other than a man — have done significantly better than films that failed the test. In fact, every movie that has generated over $1 billion in the worldwide box offices since 2014 passed the Bechdel Test.
Advertisement
The results of the study were based on data taken from 350 top-grossing films from 2014 to 2017. According to The New York Times, 105 of those films were led by women and 245 by men. The movies were separated into five categories depending on their budget – under $10 million, $10 million to $30 million, and so on. Within all the groups, with the exception of the $30 million to $50 million bracket, the average earnings for films with female leads exceeded those of their male-led counterparts.
These pivotal results act as a wake-up call to filmmakers. They diminish the long, outdated myth told far too often in Hollywood: Movies with men in leading roles yield more revenue. “The perception that it’s not good business to have female leads is not true,” Christy Haubegger of CAA told the Times. “They’re a marketing asset.”
CAA and shift7 first collaborated in 2017 through Time’s Up, an organization fighting against sexual harassment in the workplace, when they released data that showed a positive correlation between multiracial casts in films and box office success.
These two sets of data are imperative in demonstrating the rapid increase of traditionally marginalized and even omitted characters on the big screen. They signify just how much the landscape of the entertainment industry is changing – how diversifying representation in films can prompt both social and economic benefits. Most of all, these results reveal the extent to which audiences are eager and willing to pay to see films that depict anything but the stories of average white men.
Advertisement

More from Movies

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Documentary
Five love stories behind diverse, multicultural marriages.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Life experiments, 5 days at a time.
Watch Now
Fashion
The style of subculture.
Watch Now
Beauty
Viral trends, tried and tested.
Watch Now
Documentary
From vibrators to lipstick, learn how your favorite products are made.
Watch Now
Documentary
Extraordinary, one-of-a-kind individuals
Watch Now
Documentary
The latest stories to watch.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Inside the homes of millennial women — & what they paid for them
Watch Now
Comedy
Let's talk about sex, baby.
Watch Now
Documentary
Female artisans around the world
Watch Now
Politics
Made by and for smart, opinionated women.
Watch Now
Film
We helped 12 female directors claim their power.