It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World: Portrayals of Female Characters in the Top Grossing U.S. Films of 2020
The percentage of top grossing films with female protagonists dropped dramatically from 40% in 2019 to 29% in 2020. 49% of films featured male protagonists, and 22% had ensembles. The percentages of major female characters and those in speaking roles remained relatively stable. The percentage of major female characters rose from 37% in 2019 to 38% in 2020. The percentage of female characters in speaking roles climbed from 34% in 2019 to 36% in 2020. Regarding race and ethnicity, the percentage of Black females in speaking roles declined from 20% in 2019 to 17% in 2020. The percentage of Latinas increased slightly from 5% in 2019 to 6% in 2020. The percentage of Asian females declined from 7% in 2019 to 6% in 2020. Female characters remained younger than their male counterparts, dramatically declining in number when they reached their 40s. The percentage of female characters dropped from 29% in their 30s to 16% in their 40s. The percentage of male characters only declined slightly from 31% in their 30s to 28% in their 40s. Further, films in 2020 featured almost twice as many male characters 60 and older as female characters (10% vs. 6%).