Let 2018 be the Year We No Longer Have to Convince People That Female-Led Films Make Money
Sexist "accepted truths" are so 2017.
The three highest-grossing films last year all centered female protagonists. So, can we please just accept the fact that female-led movies make money? Please?
According to Box Office Mojo, the three top-grossing films domestically were Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast, and Wonder Woman. All three starred female actors playing women who consistently defy gender expectations while remaining absolutely and unapologetically feminine.
What’s interesting here isn’t just that, in the year of #MeToo, the films that made the most money starred women (one of which had a female director), but that this is the first time this has happened since 1958. Sixty years ago, the top-grossing films in the country were South Pacific, Auntie Mame, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
So, why the huge gap?
Perhaps it’s because, despite successes like that, Hollywood executives and producers give into sexist “accepted truths” rather than paying attention to the facts and data in front of them. They…forget the successes, and continue to believe that women’s stories don’t sell, so they don’t make them as often.
As Princess wrote in reference to black films when talking about the lack of publicity for Proud Mary:
“This type of thinking from studio executives is one of the biggest hindrances to getting black films made even today. No matter often they do well, people are always surprised by it. Back in 2013, people were shook that The Best Man Holiday bested Thor: The Dark World at the box office opening day and then held the second spot that weekend, which has the same director as Girls Trip, Malcolm D. Lee, cousin of Spike Lee.”
The same goes for female-led films. It doesn’t matter how many Twilights, or Hunger Games films, or Moanas there are, there are always fewer opportunities for women than there are for men, and then when female-led projects do well, it’s always a surprise. And male audiences continue to be catered to.
As it stands, Star Wars: The Last Jedi earned $531.5 million (and is still making money in theaters). Disney’s Beauty and the Beast earned $504 million, and Wonder Woman rounded out the top three at $412.5 million.
Incidentally, Beauty and the Beast was also the top-grossing film in the world last year, bringing in $759.5 million internationally. Star Wars: The Last Jedi brought in $651.1 million, making it the Number Three film in the world. Number Two? The Fate of the Furious, which brought in a majority of its total earnings internationally with over 1 billion of its business coming from outside the U.S.
The Fate of the Furious wasn’t a female-led film, but it did feature a cast mostly made up of people of color. You know, those people that “don’t open films internationally.”
So, I guess the lesson we’re learning here is that we need to stop paying attention to the stories we tell ourselves, and start paying attention to what’s actually happening in the world. Sexist and racist “accepted truths” are so 2017.
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