Despite constant discussion about gender inequality in the film industry, there was a decrease in women filmmakers in 2016 compared to 2015.
According to an annual study sponsored by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University (that can be read in its entirety here), women made up only 17% of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers on the top 250 highest-grossing movies domestically. Last year, it was 19%.
Women were mostly found on the sets of documentaries and drama movies, where they made up 24% and 20% of the crew respectively, and were least likely making action and horror movies where 11% and 12% of the filmmakers were women respectively.
7% of directors were women, down 2% from last year. The highest-grossing domestic release in 2016 directed by a woman was Patricia Riggen’s Christian family drama Miracles from Heaven. Starring Jennifer Garner and written by Randy Brown, the movie is currently the 50th highest-grossing domestic release of 2016. Since La La Land is currently at number 55 and is not slowing down, it looks like the top 50 highest-grossing movies were all directed by men in 2016.
The next woman on the list comes at number 54 with first-time director Thea Sharrock, who made Me Before You starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. Then there’s Jodie Foster’s Money Monster currently hovering at number 72.
As of this writing, Riggen, Sharrock and Foster do not have any official upcoming directing credits on their IMDb pages.
Last year, Elizabeth Banks’ Pitch Perfect 2 was the 12th biggest release and Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades of Grey was number 17. Then, Nancy Meyers’ The Intern came in at number 41. Banks is set to direct a Charlie’s Angels reboot for Sony while Taylor-Johnson is directing the first couple of episodes of a new Netflix show called Gypsy, where she is also an executive producer. Meyers has not announced her next film yet, but is currently producing a Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy to come out next year called Home Again that is written and directed by her daughter, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, in her screenwriting and directing debut.
According to the study, most women are producers on the top 250 highest-grossing domestic films. They made up 24% of the producers on those movies, which is down from 26% from last year. Editors and executive producers were 17% female, down from 22% and 20% respectively from last year. Female cinematographers also saw a decrease from 6% to 5% in 2016.
There was an increase in women writers and composers in 2016, at least. Writers were 13% female, up from 11%, and composers were 3% female, up from 2%. Supervising sound editors also saw a bump from 5% in 2014 to 8% in 2016, but sound designers went from 5% in 2014 to 4% in 2016.
The next year has a few high-profile films directed by women. Patty Jenkins brings Wonder Woman to the big screen in June and Trish Sie puts out Pitch Perfect 3 in December. Even so, studios are still largely hiring men to direct their big movies. The study also went through the top 500 highest-grossing domestic releases and found that on movies solely directed by women 64% of writers, 43% of editors, 16% of cinematographers, and 6% of composers were female. Maybe hiring some women to direct would help the problem. Just a maybe.