By Bob Strauss Daily News, Los Angeles
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new study reveals 40% of last year's highest boxoffice grossers featured female protagonists. That was up from 31% in 2018.
This week's study of female representation in the movie business finds that women headlined almost as many of 2019's top films as men did.
The annual "It's a Man's (Celluloid) World" report from San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found that a recent record 40% of last year's highest boxoffice grossers featured female protagonists. That was up from 31% in 2018.
Additionally, 17% of 2019's biggest movies were, presumably, fairly gender-balanced ensemble efforts, leaving the male-fronted figure at 43%, just three points more than the films built around female leads.
"We have now seen two consecutive years of substantial gains for female protagonists, indicating the beginning of a positive shift in representation," the SDSU Center's executive director Martha Lauzen said in a statement accompanying the report. "That said, it is important to note that moviegoers are still almost twice as likely to see a male character as a female character in a speaking role."
Lauzen referred to her team's other findings that larger pools of female characters didn't see much change in '19 over previous years. Major characters, defined as having more than one scene and being instrumental to the story, rose just one point over 2018 to 37%, while overall speaking parts for women were actually down a point to 34%.
Black female roles were also down a point from the year prior, to 20% in 2019. Latinas found their representation up a point, but still paltry, at 5%. With no "Crazy Rich Asians" casting bonanza like there was in 2018, Asian female roles fell back to their 2017 level of 7%.
Back to the good news, 45% of those overall female protagonists last year were in studio films, which in general are seen by larger audiences than independent features and, thus, reflect higher ticket-selling viability. In 2018, the ratio of women-led features was 32% studio to 68% indie.
The latest "(Celluloid) World" study follows last week's release of San Diego State's 2019 "Celluloid Ceiling" report, which found a much lower (but, nonetheless, recent high record) 12% of women directed the same top 100 domestic releases covered by the actors survey. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.