What’s Hollywood’s Issue With Leading Ladies?

Recently there’s been an evolution in the acting community regarding women in  leading roles in film. In the past they’ve only been known as the damsel in distress, the love interest, the supporting cast, the “maids”, and that’s just to name a few. This stigma has plagued women of the industry since their involvement and is just now, within the last five or six years, healing from said plague. The New York Times posted an article last year in March titled: “Only 15 Percent of Top Films in 2013 Put Women in Lead Roles, Study Finds” (written by: Cara Buckley). The writer doesn’t make it past the second paragraph before she emphasized an alarming fact. “Women accounted for less than a third of all speaking roles in the year’s 100 top-grossing domestic films. And just 15 percent of those films had women in leading roles.” She goes on to talk about other issues dealing with the poor representation of women in film. The previous excuse saying leading ladies aren’t able to make the studio’s money back is no longer viable.

The Hunger Games Series started their run in 2012 with The Hunger Games, starring Jennifer Lawrence. While the films already had a sizable book following, the fact that they’ve all grossed collectively just over $2.3 billion says a lot to audiences desire to see a strong lead female character in a film. Ms. Lawrence herself is the highest paid actress of 2015, with a $52 million income.


July 23rd, 2010, Salt starring Angelina Jolie is released and grosses nearly $300 million worldwide.


In 2011, Bridesmaids with an ensemble cast of: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, and Melissa McCarthy, grossed nearly $300 million.


In 2013, Frozen Co-starring the voices of: Idina Menzel & Kristen Bell, which has grossed over $1.2 billion.


In 2014, Lucy starring: Scarlett Johansson surpasses expectations with a just over $450 million worldwide gross.


Maleficent, also released in 2014, also starring Angelina Jolie was the fourth highest grossing movie that year with a whopping worldwide $758,410,378.


In saying this, I want to bring to your attention there are other examples not mentioned above that female led films (solo or ensemble) do work. There is a demand. Hollywood just appears to be lacking in the supply for some reason. “In her speech accepting the best actress award at the Oscars, Cate Blanchett chastised those in the industry “who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences.” “They are not, Audiences want to see them. And in fact they earn money.”




By: Zachary Peek


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