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All Six Major Studios Are Releasing at Least One Film Directed by a Woman This Year

Steps in the right direction.

Brie Larson

Last year, only 3% of the films released by a major studio were directed by women. Let that sink in. That means an overwhelming majority of the films that came out were directed by white men. (We don’t have numbers on directors of color, but this is a safe bet). However, this year, all six major studios will release at least one film directed by a woman, bringing the total of women-directed films up to 18% of the 87 films on the slate for major studios.

18% is the highest it’s been for at least the past five years, if not longer. All six major studios having a female-helmed film shows that studio executives are finally realizing that women can direct, want to direct, and are allowing them to tell more and more stories. These female-directed films include everything from blockbusters like Captain Marvel to smaller films like Little Women.

The diversity of the female-led projects also is incredibly important. Too often, women were not allowed to step into the realm of directing big budget films, as they were perceived incorrectly as being risky choices. Now, we’re getting women in charge of bigger films in both 2019 and 2020. This is an incredibly important step forward, as we have to be allowed to tell more than one kind of story.

Women in Film executive director Kirsten Schaffer told TheWrap, “It’s what we have known for a long time. Movies about and by women are showing they can be successful at the box office, and the industry is following… When people start the work of examining that unconscious bias, that’s when we see the systemic changes necessary. They start thinking about who makes the decisions, which directors and producers are the first considered for hiring. And it goes down from there for every aspect of a film’s production.”

It’s important to level the directorial playing field. Women, especially women of color, are frequently shut out from awards shows and opportunities. It’s important to have different perspectives behind the camera, as that impacts the ways stories are told. To have an all-male playing field, especially one dominated by white men, is not the way to foster inclusion. Women deserve to be represented behind the camera as well as in front of the camera.

As more festivals sign diversity pledges and more studios hire women, it’s important to support these films, as well. It’s also worth saying that the future of inclusive cinema shouldn’t live and die on the success of one female-helmed movie. If men are allowed to make films that are just okay, or mediocre, and continue right on being considered the default choice, then women shouldn’t have to only produce absolute masterpieces to continue to direct movies.

Inclusion is a long road, but we’re making positive steps in the right direction. Hopefully, 18% of all films released by a major studio is seen in the future as being a tiny percentage, and we see gender parity in studio releases going forward. Do the right thing, studios, and I assure you the box office returns will follow.

(via The Wrap, image: Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Women In Film)

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Kate (she/her) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions she has. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, she is now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for her favorite rare pairs.