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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? 73 wide releases in US in 2015 so far; only 18 have female protagonists

Time for a little mid-year check on the Where Are the Women? project, U.S. edition. (See here for the U.K. version. The numbers are almost identical.)

From January through the end of June, 2015, there have been 73 films that have had wide releases in the United States. (This list includes some films that opened at the very end of December 2014 and so had the vast majority of their runs in 2015. It also includes some awards bait that opened in limited release in late 2014 but didn’t open wide until early 2015. These figures also mostly apply to Canada, but there may have been some Canada-only wide releases that I am not aware of and don’t have access to.) These films are, in rough order of release:

Wild
Into the Woods
The Imitation Game
The Gambler
Unbroken
Top Five
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death
Taken 3
Inherent Vice
Selma
Blackhat
Paddington
The Wedding Ringer
American Sniper
Foxcatcher
The Boy Next Door
Mortdecai
Strange Magic
Black or White
The Loft
Project Almanac
Jupiter Ascending
Seventh Son
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Fifty Shades of Grey
Still Alice
The DUFF
Hot Tub Time Machine 2
McFarland USA
Focus (2015)
The Lazarus Effect
Chappie
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Unfinished Business
Cinderella
Run All Night
The Divergent Series: Insurgent
Do You Believe?
The Gunman
Get Hard
It Follows
Home
Furious 7
The Longest Ride
Woman in Gold
Danny Collins
While We’re Young
Unfriended
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
True Story
The Age of Adaline
Ex Machina
Little Boy
Avengers: Age of Ultron
The D Train
Hot Pursuit
Mad Max: Fury Road
Pitch Perfect 2
Poltergeist
Tomorrowland
Far from the Madding Crowd
San Andreas
Aloha
Spy
Entourage
Insidious: Chapter 3
Jurassic World
Dope
Inside Out
Love & Mercy
Max
Ted 2

How many of them have a female protagonist or an ensemble of protagonists that are all female? Eighteen, or less than 25 percent. They are:

The Divergent Series: Insurgent
Spy
Still Alice
Wild
Pitch Perfect 2
Insidious: Chapter 3
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Boy Next Door
Far from the Madding Crowd
The Woman in Black 2: The Angel of Death
The Age of Adaline
The DUFF
It Follows
Jupiter Ascending
Fifty Shades of Grey
Cinderella
Hot Pursuit
Inside Out

(One thing that stands out about films with female protagonists? The male supporting characters tend to be far better written and far more interesting as characters than the female supporting characters in films with male protagonists.)

Eleven more movies had joint male and female protagonists or an ensemble that was reasonably gender balanced (15 percent), but we can’t count these for women without also counting them for men (who don’t need any help). They are:

Tomorrowland
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Woman in Gold
Into the Woods
Home
Unfriended
Poltergeist
Strange Magic
Focus
The Longest Ride
Do You Believe?

The rest had male protagonists or an ensemble more weighted toward men. That’s 44 movies, or 60 percent. Add in the films with joint male-female protagonists, and that means that 75 percent of 2015’s movies so far feature men in central roles. It’s only 39 percent featuring women in central roles if we count the ones in which they share the story with men. However you cut it, men are disproportionately represented onscreen by a factor of 2 to 1, or worse.

To summarize: Women make up slightly more than half the population (51 percent) and 50 percent of the moviegoing public, but telling stories about women continues to not be a primary concern for Hollywood.

This what it looks like:

WATWus2015half

That pie should be a lot more balanced than it is.

(Please see the Where Are the Women? ranking to see how individual films fare in their representation of women. Some films with male protagonists do okay! Some films with female protagonists don’t.)


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where are the women
  • amanohyo

    Thanks for the update and all the hard work! Do you think you’ll be able to finish out the year? I feel as though a project like this gains more and more significance the longer it lasts.

  • Yes, I agree that it’s value will be over the course of the whole year. But the period the Kickstarter supported is now over. I’m thinking about how I’m going to handle this. I had hoped more people would step up via Patreon or by subscribing to the site, but that hasn’t happened. :-(

  • Danielm80

    Entertainment Weekly is reporting that six of the ten highest-grossing films this year have female protagonists. It seems to be mostly true, and it’s an encouraging sign. But I’m glad I can look at your ratings for a more nuanced picture:

    Pitch Perfect 2 +28

    Mad Max: Fury Road +25

    Home [coprotagonist] +2

    Fifty Shades of Grey -24

    Cinderella -25

    Inside Out [Not yet reviewed]

    I hope the project continues in some form, so we can continue to see the sort of analysis that appears in your ratings. And I hope that, by the end of the year, we get to ten out of ten, for the first time in the history of film.

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