Our Latest Study
Thumbs Down 2018: Film Critics and Gender, and Why It Matters
This study considers individuals working for print, broadcast, and online outlets in spring 2018 and whose work is included on the Rotten Tomatoes website. First conducted in 2007, the study has considered more than 16,000 reviews by over 900 writers over the years. Thumbs Down found that men comprise 68% and women 32% of all film reviewers. Men wrote 71% and women 29% of all reviews. Men outnumber women in every job title category and type of media outlet considered. Further, men account for the majority of those writing reviews about films in every genre. A larger proportion of films reviewed by women than by men feature female protagonists and have women directors. When reviewing films directed by women, female critics are more likely than males to mention the name of the woman directing the film in their reviews and to write about the director’s skills, work, and/or vision in exclusively positive ways.
Indie Women: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women in Independent Film, 2017-18
This study provides employment figures for women working in key behind-the-scenes roles on independently and domestically produced feature-length documentaries and narrative films screening at 23 high profile film festivals in the United States including AFI Fest, SXSW Film Festival, and Tribeca Film Festival. In 2017-18, the festivals considered screened almost three times as many narrative features directed by men as by women. The fests screened an average of 16 narrative films directed by men, compared with an average of 6 films directed by at least one woman. The festivals screened an average of 13 documentaries directed by men versus an average of 8 documentaries directed by at least one woman. Overall, the films employed more than twice as many men as women (71% vs. 29%) as directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors, and cinematographers. This represents an increase of one percentage point from 2016-17 when women accounted for 28% of individuals in these roles.
It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World: Portrayals of Female Characters in the 100 Top Films of 2017
The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 100, 250, and 500 Films of 2017
Boxed In 2016-17: Women On Screen and Behind the Scenes in Television
In 2016-17, women made modest but pervasive gains on screen and behind the scenes in television. The percentages of female characters increased slightly on broadcast network, cable, and streaming programs, and the percentages of women working in powerful behind-the-scenes roles increased slightly on cable and streaming programs. Overall, females comprised 42% of all speaking characters on television, an increase of 3 percentage points from 2015-16. Behind the scenes, women accounted for 28% of all creators, directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors, and directors of photography working on programs delivered via the various platforms last year. This represents an increase of 2 percentage points from 2015-16.
It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World: Portrayals of Female Characters in the Top 100 Films of 2015
In 2015, females comprised 22% of protagonists, 18% of antagonists, 34% of major characters, and 33% of all speaking characters in the top 100 domestic grossing films. The percentages of female characters of color were largely unchanged, with a slight increase in Black female characters (from 11% in 2014 to 13% in 2015), no change in the percentage of Latina characters (4% in 2014 and 2015), and a slight decrease in the percentage of Asian female characters (from 4% in 2014 to 3% in 2015). Further, female characters of color were less likely than White females to be major characters. 27% of Black, Latina, Asian, and females of other races/ethnicities were major characters, whereas 38% of White females were major characters.
Women and the Big Picture: Behind-the-Scenes Employment on the Top 700 Films of 2014
Women comprised 20% of those working in key behind-the-scenes roles on the top 700 theatrically released films in 2014 (foreign films omitted). This figure is slightly higher than the 17% working on the top 250 films. By role, women accounted for 27% of producers, 21% of executive producers, 18% of editors, 13% of writers, 13% of directors, and 9% of cinematographers. Films with women directors employed substantially higher percentages of women in other key behind-the-scenes roles than films with exclusively male directors. The study found similar results when women comprised at least one-third of executive producers and producers.
The Celluloid Ceiling II: Production Design, Production Management, Sound Design, Key Grips, and Gaffers
For over a decade, The Celluloid Ceiling study has tracked women’s representation as directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers on the top 250 domestic grossing films. In an effort to assess the larger picture of women’s employment in film, this study monitored their representation as production designers (20%), production managers/production supervisors (25%/44%), sound designers/supervising sound editors (5%/5%), key grips (1%), and gaffers (1%).
The study analyzed behind-the-scenes employment of 1,318 individuals working on the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2008 with combined box office grosses of approximately $9.4 billion.
Women @ the Box Office
This study asked two basic questions: how do films with at least one woman working in a key behind-the-scenes role fare at the box office when compared to those employing only men in the same roles, and how do films featuring female protagonists fare at the box office when compared to those featuring males.
Examining the top 100 worldwide grossing films of 2007, the study found that when women and men filmmakers have similar budgets for their films, the resulting box office grosses are also similar. In other words, the sex of filmmakers does not determine box office grosses.
In addition, when the size of the budget is held constant, films with female protagonists or prominent females in an ensemble cast earn similar box office grosses (domestic, international, opening weekend) and DVD sales as films with male protagonists. Because films featuring male protagonists have larger budgets, they earn larger box office grosses. However, the differences in box office grosses are not caused by the sex of the protagonist but by the size of the budget. Films with larger budgets generate larger grosses, regardless of the sex of the protagonist.