In certain dark and disturbing corners of the internet, ignorant movie fans decry the rise of compelling female characters leading franchise films out of a bizarre fear of inadequacy and hope it is merely a trend. Luckily, new data confirms that not only is more female representation better for culture as a whole, but it also leads to more successful films at the box office.
Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and shift7 collected data from films releases between 2014 and 2017 with budgets ranging from less than $10 million to more than $100 million. If a female was the first billed actor in the credits, the film was considered to have a female lead, with the data confirming that each budgetary range saw these films perform better than films without a female as the lead.
In addition to deducing that films with female leads resulted in
“This analysis affirms data showing that diversity has a positive impact on a company’s bottom line,” TIME’S UP President and CEO Lisa Borders shared in a statement. “As studios consider their fiduciary responsibilities to their investors, these findings offer a clear approach to delivering the best results.”
There are still many variables to consider regarding the success of many of the films, such as a franchise's familiarity with audiences and whether or not a film featured ensemble casts, such as Star Wars or Marvel Cinematic Universe films. The data does, however, refute the notion that films focusing on a female character might be considered a risky endeavor in any capacity, especially in big-budget blockbusters.
“This is powerful proof that audiences want to see everyone represented on screen,” former Sony Pictures Chairman Amy Pascal expressed. “Decision-makers in Hollywood need to pay attention to this.”
One complaint voiced by a sexist subset of fans is that franchises which were once dominated by male characters are now forcing a "feminist agenda," seemingly forgetting that the movement merely seeks to imbue women with equal rights to men. More females rising to prominence in established franchises sees our society more accurately represented, as opposed to creating the idea that only men can be heroes.
“What we see on screen affects how we see ourselves and each other, and can increase or decrease confidence,” shift7 CEO Megan Smith shared. “When people who have been traditionally under-represented are stereotyped, or left out of the story entirely, we diminish confidence and deprive people of role models and directly hold back the country’s economic and social potential.”
You can read more about the study over at shift7's website.