Catching Fire and Frozen: Wake Up Call on Women in Hollywood

This weekend's box-office news proves a point about women in Hollywood

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Murray Close / Lionsgate

Last week, the New York Film Academy put together a look at the way women appear in Hollywood movies, inspired by the blockbuster success of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in its first weekend. Today, with the knowledge that Catching Fire held strong throughout Thanksgiving weekend and that Disney’s Frozen was also a smash hit, it’s worth revisiting the numbers that went into that chart (the full version of which is below)—because, despite this weekend’s proof positive that women don’t have to be box-office bummers, the data make it clear that there’s a long way to go until men and women are equal on screen.

(MORECatching Fire and Frozen: Hollywood Gives Thanks for Girl Power)

Here are a few highlights from the chart:

  • More than a quarter of female actors get partially naked on screen in the top 500 films from 2007-2012; less than 10% of male actors do.
  • Those movies had an average of 2.25 men for every woman.
  • When a woman directs, there’s a 10% increase in women on screen, but there are 5 men in the film industry for every woman.
  • The top 16 single-film paychecks all went to men.
  • More than three quarters of Oscars voters are men; four times as many men were nominated for Oscars in 2013.

And the number that perhaps says the most, when paired with the above, is one that’s not shocking at all: When it comes to purchasing movie tickets, American audiences are split neatly in half by gender.

(MORE: Who is Hollywood’s Highest-Paid Actress?)

Though that 50/50 split doesn’t mean that every movie appeals to everyone equally, this weekend added a neat coda to that data. According to the New York Times, the audience for Frozen—which is about not one but two princesses—was about 43% male, following a campaign by the studio to be sure that the film’s ads didn’t suggest that it was only for girls. Variety reports that the Catching Fire gender breakdown is about the same. That means that, contrary to popular wisdom, movies about women can draw male audiences.

Catching Fire and Frozen (not to mention Gravity) are outliers, money-wise, but they do point to one lesson that could help filmmakers and the cause of equality: even when it comes to gender, quality can bridge all divides.

New York Film Academy takes a look at gender inequality in film
Courtesy of: New York Film Academy
5 comments
PrenticeReid
PrenticeReid

@Tass thank you for calling Time Magazine's crap here I'm tired of every article Time does on gender being about how women are helpless victims or how women need some mandatory quota in yet another industry because apparently that's the only way women can compete with me. The female-victim card is played out Time. Start doing some real reporting for once. 

Dara
Dara

@Tass  As a woman in the TV and film industry I can tell you there definitely is a gender biased.  I have seen women overlooked time and time again in favor of men.  I will give you some examples:

- Men being promoted over females.  In one case the male had two years experience and was one of the worst performers in the company.  The female had twenty eight years experience and one of the best performers in the company.  This was for a lead role.

- Men getting jobs over females.  A young man who did a one year course and has one year of experience got a job over myself.  I on the other hand is a senior, have six years of higher education and five years of experience.

As for cinematographers, yes you are correct that less woman are cinematographers but this is only a small part of the statistics.

One of the biggest issues is that woman aren't portrayed in TV or film as often as men.  Have you ever heard of the Bechdel test or the The Smurfette Principle?

As for your point about how women in porn make more than men, that is probably the only job in the world where this happens.  If you look at the statistics in almost every job, the male with the same education and experience as their female counterparts will always make more.  But porn actresses don't make as much money as the porn producers, directors or distributors and men are usually in these roles.

The stats here are not ridiculous as you say.  It's not there are less females than men in the entertainment industry, it's how those females are treated against their male counterparts.

Tass
Tass

Your sexist stats are ridiculous.

Women porn stars get paid about 4 times more than their male counterparts.


And the reason there are less women cinematographers is because.......shocker.........there are less studying that. It's been known for a long time females for some reason aren't really into technical jobs.

Are you going to complain there are too many female nurses?  Or would that not fit your agenda?


How is females directing more documentaries even a bad thing? You are all over the place trying to support your ridiculous and non-existent point.

acaffar2
acaffar2

@Dara @Tass Maybe the source of your problem is that you're barely literate. 

Tass
Tass

For what it's worth, I'm female btw, but I'm not into playing the victim on every opportunity. You're making a laughing stock of gender bias and doing an injustice in areas where females (AND MALES) are being unjustly treated.