Beyond Barbie, films starring women fell nearly 30% in 2023

Beyond Barbie, films starring women fell nearly 30% in 2023

Maybe Barbie may have rescued the box office in 2023, but could not tip the balance in favor of the representation of women in films.

The percentage of women, women of color and women over 45 in films in 2023 has plummeted to lows not seen in almost a decade, according to the results of a study published this morning in the United States by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative of the USC. In fact, These percentages are the worst since 2014despite Barbie.

“It’s a difficult lesson, but one that needs to be reframed: One film does not represent industry-wide progress and cannot bear the burden of moving the industry toward inclusion,” wrote the study’s authors, Katherine L. Neff, Dr. Stacy L. Smith. And Dr. Katherine Pieper.

USC Annenberg analyzed “the gender identity, race/ethnicity, and age of protagonists/co-stars of the top 100 grossing films from 2007 to 2023,” spanning more than 1,700 titles in total.


Warner Bros.

“The findings are terrible”, wrote Neff, Dr. Smith and Dr. Katherine Pieper. “Despite posturing, legacy studios have done little or reversed course on inclusion in popular films.”

They emphasize that a film, even if it is the biggest of the year, cannot compensate for the relative underrepresentation in the remaining offerings.

“This year’s results point to an industry that is increasingly apathetic to efforts around diversity and inclusion. While it is essential to celebrate the achievements of important films like Barbie, there should be more than one or a handful of films that reflect the experiences of women and people of color each year. Until the industry stops hiding behind a single model, change will remain elusive.”

Fewer female protagonists in cinema

According to the authors, only 30 of the top 100 films of 2023 featured an identified actress as the lead or co-star at the center of the plot. That percentage (30%) was substantially lower than the 44% recorded in 2022. However, women represent more than 50% of the US population and half of the movie-going audience.

As for age, only three solo-directed or co-directed films last year featured a woman 45 or older at the time of their theatrical release. Is about Cocaine Bear (Keri Russell), My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (Nia Vardalos) and Magic Mike’s Last Dance (Salma Hayek). In fact, for every movie directed/co-directed by an older woman, there were more than 10 movies directed/co-directed by an older man.

The three films featuring women aged 45 or older as leads/co-leads in 2023 were significantly fewer than the 10 counted just a year earlier, in 2022.

Source: Ambito

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