By Rebecca Keegan
Los Angeles Times.
When Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for directing in 2010, it looked to be a watershed moment for Hollywood’s premiere creative profession.
But on this Oscar Sunday, all of the directing nominees will be men. No woman has been nominated for directing since Bigelow took home the award for “The Hurt Locker,” which also won best picture.
“I don’t understand why there aren’t more powerful female directors,” said Sam Taylor-Johnson, the woman who directed Hollywood’s latest hit, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” “I don’t have the answers, but I hope that things may start to shift and that studios will employ more women to handle strong and interesting material. Hollywood historically has been a boys club, but hopefully now it’s become co-ed.”
The number of major studio films directed by women has been stubbornly low over the last five years, hitting a high of 8.1 percent in 2010 and falling to a low of 4.6 percent last year, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of films directed by women at the six major studios, based on data compiled by IMDB and confirmed with the studios.
Studio executives say the committee-driven process for greenlighting films is a key factor in the low numbers of female directors who get hired. As studios weigh such issues as a movie star’s shortlist of approved filmmakers, a director’s previous box office track record and, increasingly, directors’ experience on big-budget, visual-effects-driven films, the pool of talent becomes smaller.
The Times analysis shows that the studio with the highest percentage of films directed by women between 2009 and 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment, at 8.7 percent, was boosted by its specialty division, Sony Pictures Classics, which distributes lower-budget and foreign films. The studio with the lowest percentage, Warner Bros at 2.3 percent, relies heavily on big-budget superhero and action films, the genres least likely to be helmed by a woman.