Vive La Femme!
While major studios consistently fail to support female filmmakers, it seems that women working on the other side of the camera–aka on screen– have actually been doing fairly well.
In the last few days, Luc Besson’s new action thriller Lucy has (surprisingly) taken the declining summer box-office by storm, besting Brett Ratner’s testosterone-infused Hercules by about $15 million– and continuing the growing trend of successful female-centric films that have triumphed at the domestic box-office since last October. According to a recent post on Indiewire, “a raft of films (all but one outside the female romantic and/or comedy ghetto), starring Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Lawrence, Angelina Jolie, Cameron Diaz, Shailene Woodley and now Scarlett Johansson all have opened at #1. Throw in Rooney Mara and Meryl Streep and that’s at least 11 actresses who can be counted on to open a wide release film.”
What’s more is that on average, the production costs of these female-friendly films have been well below those of male-dominated franchise films. Paramount’s Hercules, for example, cost a total of $110 million to make. Yet it obviously failed to entice much interest this past weekend, as moviegoers opted to go see Hollywood’s newest female action star Scarlett Johansson instead of their usual favorite, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. So what does this all mean?
Well, despite the plethora of issues (still) surrounding a lack of women behind-the-scenes, it seems that Hollywood has finally caught onto one important fact: Women Can (and will continue to) Carry Movies That Make Money. Folks in this town have finally begun to realize that female protagonists will not only draw girls and women to theaters in droves — but also boys and men as well.
Simply said, women helped drive Lucy to success. Yes, you heard right, we, not men, are the ones responsible for this beautiful mess. The conventional wisdom that ‘girls will only see a movie about a boy but boys won’t see a movie about a girl’ has, according to Scott Mendelson of Forbes Magazine, “not only been mostly debunked over the last several years but rendered mostly irrelevant.” The films that are breaking out these days (well this summer at least)– the ones that are maintaining a cinematic presence and leaving a lasting impression on viewers everywhere– are the ones that are lady-led.
As both a performer and an advocate for #WomenInFilm, I, for one, am more than glad for this recent occurrence. It’s a bit of a milestone to say the least. For way too long now, we have been stuck in a moment in time where female characters remain dramatically underrepresented as protagonists and major characters in top grossing films. In fact, according to this report, only 15% of movies in 2013 featured a full-blown female lead.
It’s sad, truly depressing really how far behind Hollywood seems to be if compared to other industries in terms of gender parity. But maybe, just maybe, this is the beginning of something wonderful and new…
One can only hope.