Art Movies

Hollywood Hates Women, But Does Indiana?

Hollywood – getting the job

When we talk about Hollywood we are talking about the “Big Six” studios and all the little companies they own; specifically, Universal, Fox, Disney, Sony, Paramount, and Warner Brothers. The Big Six release only 1/7th of the films out there but they dominate at the box office. When we think about movies, the films the Big Six make shape the conversation.

In 2015 The Big Six released 102 movies, 81 of them were in the top 100.

Of those Big Six in the top 100, guess how many were directed by a woman?


  • #12 Pitch Perfect 2– Elizabeth Banks
  • #41 The Intern – Nancy Meyers
  • #59 Jupiter Ascending – Lilly & Lana Wachowski
  • #63 McFarland USA – Niki Caro
  • #74 Hot Pursuit – Anne Fletcher

Martha Coolidge said, “There was the story of the female president of a major studio who said ‘no woman over 40 could possibly have the stamina to ­direct a ­feature film.’ I’ve heard people say that the kind of films they want to make are too big, too tough for a female director.”

Catherine Hardwicke directed the first Twilight, which made $393 million dollars. The second movie was directed by a man and Hardwicke says, “(she) wasn’t even considered.”

Until 2010 Phyllida Lloyd was the highest grossing female director with Mamma Mia which brought in $610 million. She fought tooth-and-nail to get her next movie, The Iron Lady, made. Nine production companies were involved because no one believed in it enough to be the solo producer. She directed two films back-to-back pulling in profits of over $100 million + each and yet she has no studio deal and is currently directing theater productions.

Hollywood – Not many get the job

Whether it’s the title director, writer, producer, editor or cinematographer, the numbers are nowhere near the 51% female population in the United States.

According to the Center of the Study of Women in Television and Film women made up 21% of the leadership roles in film in 2015. Directors in the top 500 films stand at 12%.

When women do get the job the CSWTF found:

  • Female protagonists increase from 22% to 50%
  • Speaking roles for women increase from 33% to 40%
  • Antagonists roles for women increase from 18% to 29%
  • Female writers increased from 10% to 53%
  • Female editors increased from 19% to 32%
  • Female cinematographer increased from 10% to 12%

Hollywood – Where are the women in films no matter who it’s directed by?

When it comes to female characters in the top 100 films of last year

  • 22% were the protagonist or hero
  • 34% were major characters
  • 33% had speaking roles
  • 18% were antagonist or the baddies.
  • Women with an identifiable goal was 49% (60% for male characters)
  • 76% of all female characters were white.
  • 21% of female characters were over 40 years old (79% for male characters)
  • 29% of female characters were shown in sexually revealing clothing (8% of male characters)
  • 28% of female characters were shown with partial or full nudity. (11 % of male characters)
  • 14% of female characters were referenced as physically attractive. (4% of male characters)

As the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media says “If she can see it, she can be it.”

If we are seeing films where women and girls don’t talk, have no goals and are sexualized, what is that telling us about what our culture thinks of women?

 Hollywood – Budgets

Meryl Streep said, “Five little movies aimed at women have earned $1.6billion. The Help, Iron Lady, Bridesmaids, Mamma Mia, Devil Wears Prada. The Iron Lady cost $14 million to make and brought in $114 million dollars. That’s pure profit! So why? Why? Don’t they want the money?”

This year something interesting happened in this paradox of budgets for female led films, giving us a more apples-to-apples comparison. Batman V Superman was released this year with a budget $250 million. Wonder Woman also went into production with director Patty Jenkins. Its budget was hard to find for some time, however, it was reported in May of 2016 that Wonder Woman got a budget $100 million. Quietly and without press, now IMDB shows a budget of $150 million.

It’s unfortunate that a film that is continuation of the Batman V Superman is getting less than half its budget (or a little more than half if the IMDB listing is correct).

If the IMDB listing is accurate this will tie with Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda 2)  for the largest budget ever for a solo female director. It will also be the largest budget for a solo woman director of a live action film ever. If it’s not accurate, this is only the second time a solo woman director has a working budget of $100 million for a live-action tent pole movie. Kathryn Bigelow and K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) was the first.

In a time when superhero films budgets are well above $200 million (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Spider-Man 3, Captain America: Civil War, Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel) it is still a bit odd for Wonder Woman to get a budget of only $100/$150 million.

More stats:

In Animation, Jennifer Yuh Nelson for Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

  • Largest budget for a solo female director at $150 million
  • First woman to solo direct a Hollywood animation feature
  • First woman of color to direct a Hollywood animation feature
  • Highest grossing film ever solo directed by a woman $665 million worldwide

 Hollywood – Critics & the general public opinion

If we are lucky enough to get a film about a woman, while also beating the odds of having a woman get a leadership job, and get a proper budget… we still have the hurdle with critics and the general public opinion.

Of the top critics 73% are men 27% are women.

Interesting discrepancy:

Men write more reviews of films in all genres than women. The greatest discrepancy between male and female writers occurred for science fiction features. In spring 2016, men penned 84% and women 16% of reviews in this genre. The greatest parity occurred on romantic comedies and dramas. In this genre, men wrote 57% and women 43% of reviews.

Whether you’re apt to follow the critics or not, there is the large influencing factor of what the people around you think and say. This year we had to look no further than the polarizing and epic of de-friend zone that was Ghostbusters. A film that was written by Katie Dippold and Paul Feig, directed by Paul Feig and starred women taking up the proton packs.

Whether this film ruined your childhood or not, we at Gal’s Guide respect that with all that Hollywood has against women at least it was one of the few films a Big Six released that was about women and had a woman in a leadership role.

The backlash of Ghostbusters plus the reception of Wonder Woman will be the tell-tale marker on how much better or worse Hollywood’s reception of women will be in the future. Right now Hollywood is not employing an equal number of women in leadership roles and not giving them equal budgets.

So what about Gal’s Guide home state of Indiana?

Well, the odds of a Hollywood film production coming to Indiana currently is the same odds as humans colonizing Mars in the next decade; we’re working on it but it’s going to take a lot of time and convincing.

The good news is there are no gate keepers here! No one but yourself to tell you that you can’t make your own movie. In our state to get a job as a woman in leadership you need to create the job. There simply are not enough production companies that are looking to hire a director or a writer. So start your own production company and start making your own movie!

Indiana filmmakers utilize crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, and Indiegogo as well as investors, sponsors and paying out of their own pocket.

Indiana has a wonderful variety of film festivals and conventions that show not only Indiana made films but films from around the world. Odds are in Indiana if you finish your film you’ll have a place to show it.

Indiana is home to the Directed by Women Catalyst where every September film lovers are encouraged to host a viewing party big or small and show films directed by women. Check out our event on Sept 10th, 2016.

We are also home to Her Film Project that offers grants and sponsorships to female filmmakers around the world.

Our organization, Gal’s Guide to the Galaxy, supports female voices in all industries as well as the day-to-day. We believe that when you build a girl up instead of tear her down you empower the community.

In the last few years, several individuals and small non-profits from Indiana have made considerable effort to support female filmmakers and influencers. If Hollywood is going to hate women, we’re going to support them.

Join us.

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