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