2018 had highest percentage of female-driven films in over a decade


There are more female-led films in top-grossing movies than there have been in 12 years, but Hollywood still has far to go when it comes to true diversity.

Diversity and representation in Hollywood are definitely far from perfect, but luckily there has been progress over the years. 2018 was actually a banner year for movies with female leads. As Variety reports, research from Dr. Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found there were 40 films that had women as central roles out of the 100 top-grossing movies of the year.

Of these 40 films, some featured a woman as the lead character while others had women as the co-lead. This information is exciting since it’s an increase of eight more female-led movies from last year and 20 move female-led movies than in 2007.

2018 was definitely a year that featured more diversity in blockbuster movies than is normal. Films like A Star Is Born and Crazy Rich Asians had female leads while other films like A Quiet Place had women as co-leads.

Having more women in film both behind and in front of the camera is important. But, it’s worth noting that the majority of these lead female roles are white women. Having other kinds of diversity in Hollywood is also important, and there is still a ways to go for films that feature complex LGBTQ characters, people of color, people with disabilities and more.

The study also found that there were 28 movies out of the top 100 last year that featured a lead from an underrepresented racial group. While white actors still get more screen time and lead roles, it does appear like thing shave been improving — according to the study conducted by Dr. Smith.

The research found that there were five films out of the 100 that had black actresses in lead roles or co-lead roles. This isn’t a very high percentage, but it’s sadly still better than some other races and ethnicities that were not represented at all. There were no lead roles that had Middle Eastern or Native women.

Dr. Smith had this to say about the findings from the research:

"It is encouraging that 2018 brought a 12-year high in the number of films with a female lead or co-lead driving the action. Perhaps most notably, we witnessed gains for women of color as leads or co-leads. While there is still a significant amount of change to be accomplished, this represents a step in the right direction toward intersectional inclusion in storytelling."

Films like Black Panther have shown that casts almost solely made up of black actors and actresses can be wildly successful. This film slow showed that black-led movies don’t have to be centered around common topics like slavery. Black Panther was a great example of showing complex black characters in popular genres.

Upcoming films like Captain Marvel are also continuing the trend of female-led blockbuster movies, but once again the lead is a white woman. It’s about time that Hollywood pushed things a little further. We still haven’t had a major blockbuster superhero movie with a woman of color as the lead. We also still haven’t had an LGBTQ superhero in a big Marvel or DC movie. Of course, superhero movies aren’t the only movies out there, but diverse characters need to be shown in all different genres.

Another point worth noting from this research is that the percentage of women-led movies doesn’t reflect the demographics of audiences. Women make up 51 percent of the United States population and they buy nearly exactly half of movie tickets. Other minority groups such as Latinos and Asians also buy a large percentage of movie tickets.

It seems like Hollywood still caters to a white male audience and sometimes a white female audience, despite the fact that the audiences of these movies are much more diverse. Many people are just waiting to see films where they feel represented.

Related Story. Why diversity in Hollywood truly matters. light

Dr. Smith also noted that only 4 percent of top-grossing movies from 2007-2018 were directed by women. Having more diversity behind the camera is one of the best ways to get more representation on film, and this is an area where Hollywood has a long way to go.