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Image / Editorial

Female-led films consistently outperform male-led films, new study finds


by Erin Lindsay
13th Dec 2018
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Image: Wonder Woman, Warner Bros

A new study that analysed four years of box-office leading movies has found that female-led films consistently outperform male-led ones. Some of the biggest films of the past few years, including Moana, Wonder Woman and Inside Out, have been shown to be benchmarks in gender equality being an asset to film production companies.

The study, conducted by the talent agency Creative Artists and the tech company shift7, collected data from the 350 highest grossing movies worldwide between January 2014 and December 2017. It found that, across all budgets, films with a woman as the lead star averaged higher global grosses than their male-led counterparts.

A female lead is defined in the study as a woman who is listed first in official press materials for the film. Of the 350 films studied, 105 were found to have female leads, with 245 having male leads, with the biggest discrepancy occurring in big budget films.

The study also researched how films stood up under the Bechdel Test, which is a set of criteria that analyses whether a film portrays women in a sexist or gender-stereotyped manner. The study found that films that passed the Bechdel Test also consistently do better at the box office than those that don’t — of films that cost over $100 million to make, those that passed the Bechdel Test grossed $618 million worldwide. Those that didn’t averaged $413 million. Since 2012, all films that have made more than $1 billion in box office revenue have passed the Bechdel Test.

Creative Artists Agency agent Christ Haubegger said in a statement: “Women comprise half the box office, yet there has been an assumption in the industry that female-led films were generally less successful. We found that the data does not support that assumption.”