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Films With Leading Ladies Outperform Films With Male-Led Roles

A new study shows that in recent years, films with starring women in leading roles consistently outperform films with leading men in box offices. Yet another way that increased representation benefits everyone! From 2014 to 2017, women-led movies earned more overall, regardless of whether the budget was less than $10 million or over $100 million. These movies all aced the Bechdel test, which measures the quality of female representation—or lack thereof—in fiction. The bar for passing this test is quite low, but it still manages to be too high for some.

To pass, a movie must contain at least two characters who are women and converse on a topic other than men. Sounds easy, right? Turns out, there are many stories that fail to pass it, demonstrating deep-rooted sexism in Hollywood. This new study found that films that do pass this test tend to be more successful than those that fail it. Despite this clear incentive to cast more leading ladies, only a fourth of top film protagonists and a third of major characters in 2017 were women. So movie-makers, take note: the people are eager for fresh storylines that include more women, and giving the people what they want will lead to far higher chances of box office smash hits.

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