Thursday, April 03, 2014

More Women in Films Means More Profit--the Numbers Say It All

Last year our Invitational asked the Broads to make a short that passed the Bechdel test.  Nate Silver's Five Thirty Eight blog, known best for predicting election results based on statistical analysis, looked at the bias against women in Hollywood and came up with a great column on how women's movies are a better investment overall.

If you dig down into the numbers with him, it seems to be that the more women in the film the lower the budget.  However, in terms of return on investment, the aggregate of films that pass the Bechdel test do much better than the aggregate of films that don't, even accounting for blockbusters.

As Meryl Streep asked at the 2012 Women in Film Crystal Lucy Awards, " Don't they want the money?" (Great article in the Guardian about that here.)

What Walt Hickey did in FiveThirtyEight's article is break all films into 4 categories: passing and the three conditions that make a film fail.
  • Passing: two named female characters, who talk to each other, about something other than men.
  • Women only talk about men
  • Women do not talk to each other
  • Fewer than 2 women
As the presence of women in a film goes up, the budget goes down.  The biggest average budget size was in films where there were at least 2 women, but they never talked to each other.  I mean, ladies, really?  Can you imagine life where you only got to talk to men??? 

When 538 interviewed Hollywood players, there were four reasons for the dearth of females in films, first and foremost being the  "scant numbers of women in writing, directing, producing and financing roles in Hollywood."  How's that for circular?

They also point to two other big reasons wrapped around a general assumption about what people will pay to see.

... the fact that foreign pre-sales are crucial in paying for the vast majority of films and the belief, among investors, that movies featuring women do not “travel” well internationally; and the persistent assumption that American audiences are more likely to prefer male-anchored films, especially in the lucrative action genre.
 This assumption is up for debate; we found that films that pass the Bechdel test tend to do better dollar for dollar than those that don’t — even internationally.

So go read the article.  Post it, tweet it, and keep hammering the reality home.  More women=more money.

(Hat tip for this link goes to Julie Janata at the Alliance for Women Directors.)

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