New Study Indicates That Women-Led Movies Earn More Than Their Male-Led Counterparts

A new study has delved into the world of film to discover that movies with female leads are now out-performing those led by men.

Superstar surrounded by paparazzi
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A new study has delved into the world of film to discover that movies with female leads are now out-performing those led by men.

There has always been the argument in Hollywood that movies based around a female main character never earn as well at the box office as those movies that center around male lead characters. Now, a new study is proving that there is a definite shift in this belief with figures showing women-led movies earn more than movies led by men.

According to the New York Times, research done by Creative Artists Agency and shift7 have discovered that women-led movies are actually earning more than those movies that are headed by male lead characters.

Christy Haubegger, an agent for Creative Artists Agency and a member of the research team, believes that women-led movies are now a marketing asset.

“The perception that it’s not good business to have female leads is not true. They’re a marketing asset.”

In addition, the study found that of those movies with women in the lead role, those that also passed the Bechdel test out-performed those that didn’t. The Bechdel test “measures whether two female characters have a conversation about something other than a man,” according to the New York Times. So, for example, a rom-com with female leads that talked about how to catch a man didn’t perform as well movies like the recent superhero hit, Wonder Woman.

The research has also found that “no film between 2014 and 2017 earned $1 billion without passing the Bechdel test and that no film has made $1 billion without passing the test since 2012.”

The analysis was based on 350 movies. Of these movies, they were broken down by sex-determined lead, with 105 being led by women and 245 by men. In addition, the movies were also broken down further into budget size, since movies that have a budget over $100 million were considered to be “a key part of studio business and the study’s authors decided that they needed to be considered on their own.” Of the massive budget movies, 75 had male leads and 19 starred women.

It could be considered a win for women with this new data. However, Haubegger also believes that the evidence suggests that people are looking for more varied storylines that are usually only offered with female-led movies or those that are led by people of color.

And, while the study is showing a trend that may lead to more movies being made with female main characters, only one-quarter of the top movies for 2017 involved female leads. So, it is yet to be seen whether this new study will now affect that. Especially considering that a San Diego State University study has also shown that movies with a female protagonist have actually dropped in 2017 from the previous year.