Despite pay gap, female-led movies make more than male-led movies claims report

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Moana (Credit: Disney)

Movies with female leads make more than movies starring men, according to date from a new study.

Top films released between 2014 and 2017 earned more at the box office, despite the recent fall-out over male stars being paid more than women.

The research also found that movies that pass the Bechdel Test – films which features scenes where female characters converse without talking about men – also perform better at the box office than those that fail it.

Creative Artists Agency and shift7 crunched the numbers, refining the top-grossing 350 movies from 2014 to 2017 into movies with female leads compared to male leads.

105 movies were listed as having female leads, compared to 245 listed as male leads, and in every budget category, from movies costing less than $10 million to movies costing over $100 million, the movies with female leads made more money.

On average, the revenue for male-led films in the $100 million-plus budget category made $514 million, compared to $586 million for female-led films.

Daisy Ridley and J.J. Abrams on the set of Star Wars (Credit: Lucasfilm)

Female-led movies also beat out male-led movies when the numerical median value, rather than the average, was used too.

“The perception that it’s not good business to have female leads is not true,” C.A.A. agent Christy Haubegger told The New York Times. “They’re a marketing asset.”

Stats were gathered from films listed by entertainment data provider Gracenote, and in fact, because of the ways certain blockbusters were listed, it could mean that the findings are even more decisive.

(Credit: shift7)

Both Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, for example, listed Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill as the lead actors, rather than Daisy Ridley, with both movies being among the biggest box office hits in recent years.

The news comes as actresses in Hollywood continue to demand equal pay to their male counterparts in similar roles, but also as disparity remains an issue in the industry.

This year George Clooney was named Forbes’ highest paid actor of 2018 (thanks largely to the sale of his tequila brand Casamigos rather than his acting), having coined in $239 million, with Dwayne Johnson in second place with (thanks mostly to has acting) $124 million.

This compares to Scarlett Johansson who topped the highest-paid actress list, having made $40.5 million in 2018.

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