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B.O. of the ’00s: The Top Grossing Female Helmed Films

B.O. of the '00s: The Top Grossing Female Helmed Films

The 2010s are fast approaching – 26 days and counting – and indieWIRE is continuing this weekly Friday chart devoted to glancing back at the past ten years. With a film opening each weekend as a starting point, we’re charting various sub-categories of 2000s film, focusing on their North American box office performance. This week, with Cheryl Hines-directed, Adrienne Shelly-written “Serious Moonlight” opening in theaters, iW decided to look back at the last ten years of box office for films directed by women.

As expected, the numbers show the appalling state of the role of women in the film industry. Over the past ten years, 241 films have grossed $100 million. Five of them (“Twilight,” “What Women Want,” “The Proposal,” “Mamma Mia!” and “Something’s Gotta Give”) were solely directed by women, while an additional two (“Shrek” and “Shark Tale”) had women as co-directors. That amounts to roughly 2%, an absolutely ridiculous percentage when one considers just over half of the world are females. More over, only 31 films directed or co-directed by women grossed over $20 million. Over 1,000 films directed by men did the same.

Alarming statistics aside, it’s certainly interesting to look at the trends in the below list of top grossing female-helmed films. Romantic comedies, many of them directed by Nancy Meyers and Anne Fletcher (who between them accounted for 6 of the 12 top grossing films, and Meyers’ upcoming “It’s Complicated” could easily join them when all is said and done), dominated the overall list. The films on the list also had an overwhelming tendency to feature female actors in a lead role, with Meyer’s “What Women Want” the sole film in the top ten not to at least have a woman co-headlining the cast.

Check out the full list below, which includes only North American grosses and films released between January 1, 2000 and today.

The poster for Catherine Hardwicke’s “Twilight.”

Top Grossing Female-Helmed Films of the 2000s

1. Shrek (Vicky Jenson with Andrew Adamson, 2001) $267,665,011
2. Twilight (Catherine Hardwicke, 2008) $192,769,854
3. What Women Want (Nancy Meyers, 2000) $182,811,707
4. The Proposal (Anne Fletcher, 2009) $163,958,031
5. Shark Tale (Vicky Jenson with Bibo Bergeron & Rob Letterman, 2004) $160,861,908
6. Mamma Mia! (Phyllida Lloyd, 2008) $144,130,063
7. Something’s Gotta Give (Nancy Meyers, 2003) $124,728,738
8. Julie and Julia (Nora Ephron, 2009) $94,125,426
9. 27 Dresses (Anne Fletcher, 2008) $76,808,654
10. Herbie: Fully Loaded (Angela Robinson, 2005) $66,023,816
11. Step Up (Anne Fletcher, 2006) $65,328,121
12. The Holiday (Nancy Meyers, 2006) $63,224,849
13. Bewitched (Nora Ephron, 2005) $63,313,159
14. Little Miss Sunshine (Valerie Faris with Jonathon Dayton, 2006) $59,891,098
15. Lost In Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003) $44,585,453
16. John Tucker Must Die (Betty Thomas, 2006) $41,011,711
17. Autumn In New York (Joan Chen, 2000) $37,761,915
18. The Nativity Story (Catherine Hardwicke, 2006) $37,629,831
19. 28 Days (Betty Thomas, 2000) $37,170,488
20. Hanging Up (Diane Keaton, 2000) $36,050,230
21. K-19: The Widowmaker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2002) $35,168,966
22. Monster (Patty Jenkins, 2003) $34,469,210
23. I Spy (Betty Thomas, 2000) $33,561,137
24. Pay It Forward (Mimi Leder, 2000) $33,519,628
25. Return To Me (Bonnie Hunt, 2000) $32,722,798
26. August Rush (Kristin Sheridan, 2007) $31,641,162
27. Riding In Cars With Boys (Penny Marshall, 2001) $30,165,536
28. The Prince and Me (Martha Coolidge, 2004) $28,176,497
29. Frida (Julie Taymor, 2002) $25,885,000
30. Aeon Flux (Karyn Kusama, 2005) $25,874,337
31. Across The Universe (Julie Taymor, 2007) $24,343,673
32. The Producers (Susan Stroman, 2005) $19,398,532
32. Waitress (Adrienne Shelly, 2007) $19,074,800

Please note that while indieWIRE did extensive research to compile this list, it’s always possible we missed a film. Definitely let us know if you catch an error on our part.

“B.O. of the ’00s” is a weekly feature from indieWIRE running until the end of the year. Check out the previous editions:

B.O. of the ’00s: The Top Grossing Foreign-Language Films
B.O. of the ’00s: The Top Grossing Documentaries
B.O. of the ’00s: The Top Grossing Sundance Films

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Thanks for the clarification, Peter. Alas, I’ve no doubt that the percentages would be sadly similar — but let’s at least give a shout out to Kelly Reichardt, Nicole Holofcener, and the many others who continue to get their films made, even if the gaps between films can be huge. To think that Julie Dash, even though she gets the occasional TV gig, has not made a theatrical feature since her wondrous DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST in ’92! (According to IMDb, she does have a feature — MAKING ANGELS — in development for 2010, but . . .)

Sad, sad, sad. (And it ain’t easy for most non-celebritous men as well.)

Peter Knegt

It was simply the top 33 films, no criteria beyond that. And I’d imagine that even if all female directors were considered, regardless of box office, the percentages would be sadly similar.


Not clear what the bottom line is as to how much a film has to gross in order to be on this list — $15M and over? ($17,657,973 is an odd amount at which to stop.) Off the top of my head I can think of one female director — Mira Nair — who’s not represented at all, but maybe all her films are below whatever that line is. MONSOON WEDDING only did $13,885,966 domestic, but VANITY FAIR did $16,136,476 (not that far from KIT KITTRIDGE), and the lackluster AMELIA looks like it might possibly crack $15M (it’s currently at $14,025,221 ). Sofia Coppola’s MARIE ANTOINETTE lost a bundle but its U.S. take was $15,962,471. There are probably a few more, depending on your criteria.

The percentages are still pathetic, and I realize this is about b.o., but I wonder what the figures would be if ALL female directors were considered (especially if doc makers were included), with no regard to b.o. May be beside the point here, but would be interesting to know.

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