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Monday, December 2, 2013

2013: Not a Terrible Year for Women in Film!

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 12:59 PM

FRANCES HA Hooray for baby steps.
  • FRANCES HA Hooray for baby steps.

Let's celebrate something that isn't terrible, shall we? Given how women are—or, more accurately, are not—represented in film, here's something kind of promising that I realized over the weekend:

Two of this year's most-talked about movies had female leads (Gravity and The Hunger Games). Some of this year's best movies were directed by women (Enough Said and Stories We Tell). A few more of the year's best movies both starred and were co-written by women (Sightseers and Frances Ha). Even when it came to 2013's pop movies, female characters got a better shake than usual; while it's easy to think of blockbusters focusing on men (because, for the most part, they do), it seemed to me* like women finally got to do things in these sorts of movies. Man of Steel, Oz the Great and Powerful, Iron Man 3, The Heat, and even Fast & Furious 6** were some of 2013's biggest hits; they also felt like they spent some serious time giving their women characters actual arcs and personalities.

It seems almost like the start of a long-overdue trend. Hopefully, it's one that will continue. Taking a look at last weekend's box office, Badass Digest's Devin Faraci thinks it will:

This weekend's Thanksgiving box office broke all sorts of records, with Frozen and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire making crazy, crazy money. Catching Fire had the fourth best second weekend in history. It had the best Thanksgiving five-day weekend ever, besting Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone. It has made almost $300 million domestic in ten days. Frozen was the biggest movie to ever open in second place, and it was the biggest Thanksgiving opening ever, beating Toy Story 2. The two films, combined, took in over $200 million this weekend.

They are both, of course, movies with female leads. Great female leads, I should add. Female leads who are not secondary to the male characters, and who in fact completely overshadow the men in their films. Hell, Frozen's main story isn't even a romance, it's about the relationship between two sisters.

There's a conventional wisdom that female-led movies don't open or play well. That's dead. And then there's a conventional wisdom that there's only so much of an audience for female-led movies. That was killed good this weekend; there's $200 million worth of an audience. (Via.)

The fact that this is even a topic of conversation in film circles is a bummer—but if 2013's movies show us anything, it might be that people are at least having conversations about women in film more. And that seems, at least to me, like a pretty good thing.

* Admittedly, a MAN—so take all this with a grain of salt, or a bunch of grains of salt arranged into the shape of an entitled penis.
** A series that continues to make the rest of Hollywood look backwards and conservative when it comes to casting actors of different genders and races, I might add.

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