Number Of Female Directors Behind Top-Grossing Films Reaches 13-Year High In 2019, Study Reveals

The number of top-grossing films directed by women reached a 13-year high in 2019, a new study has revealed.

According to Dr. Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, 10.6 per cent of the directors of 2019’s top movies were female. However, Hollywood clearly still has a long way to go.

Smith shared, according to Deadline: “This is the first time we have seen a shift in hiring practices for female film directors in 13 years. One notable reason for this jump in 2019 was that Universal Pictures had five films with women directors at the helm in the top 100 movies. Yet there is still much more progress needed to reach parity for women behind the camera.”

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Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”), Lorene Scafaria (“Hustlers”), Olivia Wilde (“Booksmart”) and Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”) have all directed top movies this year.

The study focused on female directors working across the 1,300 top-grossing films between 2007 and 2019. Despite numbers being on the rise as a whole, the research pointed out that the number of women of colour and directors from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups was still worryingly low, reaching 16.8 per cent in 2019. Last year’s percentage hit 21.4.

Just four women of colour directed a top 100 movie in the past 12 months.

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Smith said, “Less than one per cent of all directors across 13 years were women of colour. In fact, 13 women have directed a top film in 13 years. While 2019 is a banner year for women, we will not be able to say there is true change until all women have access and opportunity to work at this level.”

Female directors of colour include Ava DuVernay, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Jennifer Yuh Nelson.

Smith said of the Metacritic scores for the films, “Women of colour received the highest median and average Metacritic scores for their films compared to white male-, underrepresented male-, and white female-directed content.

“Yet, women of colour are least likely to work as directors across the top 100 films each year. These findings suggest that when companies seek to hire ‘the best person for the job’, they are not relying on objective criteria, but on a subjective view of storytellers.”

Overall, the report found that 70 out of 1,448 directors were female in the movies studied. Universal Pictures came out on top with 15 out of 220 directors being female, while Paramount had just three women in their roster of 152 directors.

STX also had three female directors out of 22.

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Female Filmmakers Making Their Mark This Year

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