In the top 10 highest grossing films of 2016, only 27% of all dialogue were spoken by women according to Free Code Camp.
That’s just over a quarter of all the lines said in just over 19 hours (I counted) of cinema.
These were the biggest films of the year, according to The Numbers:
- Captain America: Civil War
- Finding Dory
- The Jungle Book
- The Secret Life of Pets
- Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- Suicide Squad
What’s most surprising to me is that three of these films (Finding Dory, Zootopia, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) have female leads, yet women spoke only 53%, 46% and 17% of the time respectively. At least animated female characters get to talk more than live action ones.
Is this because sci-fi/fantasy films are still too male-focused? Or is it that they don’t represent females fairly? Are animated films more forward-thinking than the films made for adults? It seems the answer might be yes.
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But then, I think to myself, what about the films that were more female-focused? Why didn’t they make as much money? Or do we as a society still see female films as niche?
I think it might be the latter.
Hear me out. Look at Ghostbusters. When the all female reboot was announced back in 2015, people went nuts. Not just because a classic film was being remade, but because it was being remade with FEMALES. This unease continued in the run-up to the premiere of the film and even after it was released. The film was a box office success, making $229,034,050 (over R31 billion), but it’s still on the 33rd highest grossing movie of 2016.
Other big female centric films like Moana, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Alice Through the Looking Glass also only appeared 15th, 28th and 30th on the list.
According to USA Today, only 7% of 2016’s biggest films were directed by women.
So is the problem that women aren’t being represented fairly or that women aren’t being allowed to tell their own stories? I think it’s both.
But, in contrast, it seems that 2017 will be better for female led movies. Hidden Figures, the film about three black women who worked at NASA during the late 1950s, has already outstripped other films like Oscar favourite La La Land by bringing in $89.3 million (R1.2 billion) in just over a month.
For some other interesting facts, check out the Free Code Camp.