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It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World: Portrayals of Female Characters in the Top Grossing U.S. Films of 2023


It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World has monitored portrayals of girls and women in the top 100 grossing films since 2002.  It is the longest-running and most comprehensive study of women’s representation in film available.  The percentage of females in speaking roles declined from 37% in 2022 to 35% in 2023, and the number of female characters in major roles remained the same at 38%.  The percentage of films with female protagonists contracted from 33% in 2022 to 28% in 2023.  77% of films featured more male than female characters in speaking roles. Only 18% of films had more female than male characters, and 5% of films featured equal numbers of female and male characters.  Female characters were younger than their male counterparts, experiencing a precipitous drop from their 30s to their 40s.  33% of female characters were in their 30s but only 15% were in their 40s.  The percentage of male characters in their 30s and 40s remained steady at 28%, and men didn’t experience a decline until they reached their 50s.  Females over 60 remained dramatically underrepresented, accounting for just 7% of all female characters.  Films with at least one woman director and/or writer were more likely than films with no women in these roles to feature higher percentages of females as protagonists, in major roles, and as speaking characters.

The Celluloid Ceiling: Employment of Behind-the-Scenes Women on Top Grossing U.S. Films in 2023


The Celluloid Ceiling has tracked women’s employment on the 250 top (domestic) grossing films for the last 26 years and provides the most comprehensive historical record of women’s employment in behind-the-scenes roles available.  Overall, women accounted for 22% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the 250 top grossing films.  This represents a decline of 2 percentage points from 24% in 2022.  Taking the long view, it represents an increase of just 5 percentage points since 1998. By role, women made up 16% of directors, 17% of writers, 26% of producers, 24% of executive producers, 21% of editors, and 7% of cinematographers working on the 250 top grossing films.  Films with at least one woman director employed substantially more women in other key behind-the-scenes roles than films with exclusively male directors.  The report also includes the percentages of women working on the 100 top grossing films.

Boxed In: Women On Screen and Behind the Scenes on Broadcast and Streaming Television in 2022-23


In 2022-23, females fared better as characters and contestants on reality programs and game shows (50%) than as characters on scripted programs (43%).  While the employment of women in behind-the-scenes roles was the same on both scripted and unscripted programs (32%), women fared better as directors on scripted (22%) than unscripted programs (11%).  However, the percentage of women working as producers was higher on unscripted (47%) than scripted programs (41%).  Overall, the findings indicate that 2022-23 was not a stellar year for women on screen or behind the scenes.  Females accounted for 45% of all speaking characters on original streaming programs and 44% on broadcast network programs.  Both of these percentages represent a retreat from slightly higher numbers in 2021-22.  The percentage of women working in behind-the-scenes roles also declined from 37% in 2021-22 to 34% in 2022-23 on original streaming programs, and from 31% in 2021-22 to 29% in 2022-23 on broadcast network programs.  

Indie Women: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women in U.S. Independent Film, 2022-23


This year’s Indie Women study tracked the employment of behind-the-scenes women working on independently and domestically produced feature-length documentaries and narrative films screening and/or streaming at 20 high-profile film festivals in the U.S.  While the fests continue to stream and/or screen more narrative features directed exclusively by men than those with at least one woman director, the margin is narrowing.  In 2022-23, the festivals streamed/screened an average of 10 films by male directors and 7 by female directors.  In 2021-22, the radio was 10 to 6.  In 2022-23, the gender gap disappeared entirely for documentary features, with festivals streaming/screening equal numbers of films directed by men and women.  In terms of employment, men continue to comprise the majority of those working as directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers (men 61%, women 39%) on independently produced narrative films and documentaries.  While the percentages of women working as producers, editors, and cinematographers remained stable in 2022-23, the percentage of women working as directors increased from 40% in 2021-22 to 42% in 2022-23.  The percentage of women writers rose from 35% in 2021-22 to 40% in 2022-23.  These are recent historic highs.

Living Archive: The Celluloid Ceiling Documenting 25 Years of Women’s Employment in U.S. Films


Since 1998, the annual Celluloid Ceiling project has tracked women’s employment in some of the core crafts of filmmaking, including directing, writing, producing, editing, and cinematography.  Gains in women’s employment have been uneven and, in the case of some roles, negligible.  The percentage of women working as editors on the 250 top (domestic) grossing films increased by a single percentage point from 20% in 1998 to 21% in 2022.  The percentage of women cinematographers rose just 3 percentage points over the last 25 years, from 4% in 1998 to 7% in 2022.  The percentage of women writers increased 6 percentage points from 13% in 1998 to 19% in 2022.  The percentage of women working as executive producers rose 7 percentage points from 18% in 1998 to 25% in 2022.  The percentage of women working as producers climbed 7 percentage points, from 24% in 1998 to 31% in 2022.  Women who direct experienced the largest gains, rising from 9% in 1998 to 18% in 2022.  While the percentage of women directors has doubled over the last 25 years, they remain dramatically underrepresented, as do women working as writers, editors, cinematographers, composers, and in other vital roles.

Streaming Women: Representation and Employment in Original U.S. Films Released by Streaming Services in 2022


In 2022, more original U.S. films on major streaming services featured female than male protagonists.  49% (49.4%) of films featured sole female protagonists, 38% (38.3%) of films featured sole male protagonists, and 12% (12.3%) of films had ensembles.  Females comprised 44% (43.8%) of major characters, and 40% (40.1%) of all speaking characters.   The report also considers the representation of women in behind-the-scenes roles.  In 2022, women comprised 26% of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers.  By role, women accounted for 8% of cinematographers, 22% of directors, 23% of writers, 27% of producers, 29% of executive producers, and 30% of editors.   The study reports the findings of a content analysis of over 1,800 characters and more than 1,100 behind-the-scenes credits on original U.S. films released by Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max and Netflix in 2022.  It is the only study currently available that provides 2022 data for the major streaming companies.

Thumbs Down 2022: Film Critics and Gender, and Why It Matters


First conducted in 2007, Thumbs Down considers the representation of individuals working for print, radio/television, and online outlets in the U.S. and whose reviews appear on the Rotten Tomatoes website.  The study found that male reviewers now outnumber female reviewers by more than 2 to 1.  In the opening months of 2022, men comprised 69% (69.2%), women 31% (30.5%), and nonbinary individuals 0.3% of reviewers.  For women, this represents a decline of 4 percentage points from 35% in 2020.  Further, male critics outnumber female critics in every job category, type of media outlet, and film genre considered.  The findings indicate that men reviewers award slightly higher average quantitative ratings to films with male protagonists than women reviewers, films directed by women comprise a smaller proportion of reviews by men than women, and that when reviewing films directed by someone of their own gender, male and female critics are more likely to mention the name of the director in their review.  Over the years, Thumbs Down has considered over 29,000 reviews written by more than 1,900 reviewers.  This year’s edition examined more than 4,000 reviews written by over 330 individuals. It is the most comprehensive and longest-running study of women’s representation and impact as film reviewers available.  

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.