Last week at CinemaCon, they held a panel about women and the box office. Moderated by The Hollywood Reporter's Editorial Director, Janice Min, the panel touched upon the depressing statistics for female leads in films even though women drive much of the box office business.
The panel included actress and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Geena Davis; Bridesmaids director Paul Feig; The Hunger Games producer, Nina Jacobson; Regal Entertainment CEO, Amy Miles and Fox Animation Studios president, Vanessa Morrison. One of the topics discussed was the making of and success of Bridesmaids. Feig talked about the difficulty in getting studios to consider making a film with strong female characters, and the he also touched on the continued doubt from the industry that the film was never going to work right up to the film's release.
Even with the success of female lead films like Bridesmaids and The Hunger Games, studios have "franchise fever" as Jacobson describes it, which leads to less diversity in the films made and the continued targeting at boys and men. Jacobson also noted that she wished she had something to see with her children. Miles commented on the lack of toys and other promotional materials that she can take home to her niece because they are all primarily geared toward her nephew. Miles feels even at young ages, marketing favors boys, and sees first hand trough her nephew his excitement about going to the movies which is missing from her niece.
But what should studios being doing to solve this problem? Feig has a pretty simple answer.
Studios should want to take a chance...by casting women in great roles and letting them do what they do.
The good news is there has already been some positive some response to the conversation. National Association of Theatre Owners President, John Fithian, released a statement:
This panel provided some of the most incisive and perceptive analysis of our business that I have ever heard. We want to offer a diversity of choice to our customers, and to do that our industry needs to be as diverse as our customers. Women are the majority of our population -- it should be easy to start there.
Let's hope the studios are paying attention too especially as Jacobson and Morrison pointed out, we owe it to a whole new audience of female moviegoers to have great depictions of women on screen.
CinemaCon: 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Question Results in Awkward Silence (The Hollywood Reporter)