Women Directed 17 of the Top 250 Grossing Films of 2014

Women Directed 17 of the Top 250 Grossing Films of 2014

Female directors accounted for only 17 of the top 250 grossing films of 2014 — a mere 6.8%. As paltry as this number is, it represents a minor improvement from 2013, when women comprised 6% of all directors working on the top 250 films. While a 0.8% increase may not seem like cause for celebration, we can find some consolation in the fact that the number hasn’t gone down from the previous year.

As much as we’d like to be optimistic about the future — with this being the beginning of a new year — female directed films won’t make a bigger splash at box office in 2015, or ever, until a) more female directors are hired to direct films and b) they are given higher-profile and bigger-budget projects, such as Michelle MacLaren’s upcoming Wonder Woman

As Women and Hollywood has reported, women directed 4.7% of studio films from 2009-2013, and the numbers are only slightly better in the world of independent filmmaking, where women directed 10% of films from 2009-2013. With this context in mind, can we really be all that surprised by the fact that so few of the top 250 grossing movies of 2014 were directed by women? 

On the bright side, black women directors had a breakthrough year. Three of the movies from female filmmakers of color that made our “Best Films About Women in 2014” list — Amma Asante’s Belle, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights, and Ava DuVernay’s Selma — are happily among the 17 films helmed by female directors to crack the top 250 list. Selma will likely continue to ascend the box office when it opens wide this week, especially with its awards buzz and Ava DuVernay becoming the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Best Director Golden Globe.

Angelina Jolie had one of the best years of her career. The director’s second feature, Unbroken, was the highest-grossing film directed by a woman in 2014, earning nearly $90 million (so far) in just two weeks. She also starred in Maleficent, the sixth-highest grossing movie of 2014.  

See below for the top-grossing female directors of 2014 and Women and Hollywood’s coverage of the filmmakers. If you want an easy way to keep track of female-directed releases, sign up for our weekly newsletter or check out our weekly post of female-centric films opening and currently playing. 

34. Unbroken – Directed by Angelina Jolie ($89,071,545)  (Maleficent, written by Linda Woolverton, is the sixth-highest grossing movie of the year with over $241 million in domestic ticket sales) 

101. Endless Love – Directed by Shana Feste ($23,438,250) 

116. Step Up All In – Directed by Trish Sie ($14,904,384) 

117. Beyond the Lights – Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood ($14,566,310)
Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Gina Prince-Bythewood

123. Belle – Directed by Amma Asante ($10,726,630) 
Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Amma Asante

158. Obvious Child – Directed by Gillian Robespierre ($3,123,963)
Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Gillian Robespierre

174. Citizenfour (doc) – Directed by Laura Poitras ($2,263,209) 
Read Women and Hollywood’s review of Citizenfour

181. Selma – Directed by Ava DuVernay ($2,125,655) 
Listen to Women and Hollywood’s podcast with Ava DuVernay 

188. Fed Up (doc) – Directed by Stephanie Soechtig ($1,538,899) 
Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Stephanie Soechtig

201. Laggies – Directed by Lynn Shelton ($1,066,981) 
Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Lynn Shelton

208. Awake: The Life of Yogananda – Directed by Paola di Florio and Lisa Leeman  ($991,167) 

215. Kochadaiiyaan – Directed by Soundarya R. Ashwin ($817,192) 

220. Palo Alto – Directed by Gia Coppola ($767,732) 

221. The Babadook – Directed by Jennifer Kent ($742,092)

223. Land Ho! – Co-Directed by Martha Stephens ($727,594) 
Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Martha Stephens

249. Last Days in Vietnam – Directed by Rory Kennedy ($440,031) 

250. But Always (Yi Sheng Yi Shi) – Directed by Snow Zou ($430,760) 

[via Box Office Mojo as of Jan. 7, 2015]

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Comments

Jim

Unbroken, Beyond The Lights, Belle, Laggies, Palo Alto, Citizenfour, The Babadook, Obvious Child, Selma. That’s a really great bunch of films right there.

Gus

I guess I have to be that guy – an increase from 6 percent to 6.8 percent is an increase of 13.3 percent, not an increase of 0.8 percent. Same as if you made 60 dollars an hour one year and then 68 dollars the next. That’s a 13.3% raise. I know it’s pedantic but it is important when discussing statistical improvement.

Wendi

Sufferin’ for roughage! #YesAllVegans

Will

Wendi, you have also said nothing in regards to any of the other statements I have made. All you have done is sidestepped them in favor of manifesting irrational ideas simply as a guise to allow yourself to direct insecure anger.

Will

Wendi….Wow…..Just wow.
1. There correlation in that regard is irrealvent. The comparison is apt because I am discussing two establishments (Hollywood and McDonalds) who are all about the bottom dollar, and whom pander to the lowest common denominator. Woman’s and Vegans can be compared in this regard because they are both specific demographics who are in conflict with a bigger corporate industry.
2.Who said anything bout vegans working at McDonalds? I’m talking about the customer. You’re looking to literal into that.

You seemed to have completely missed an analogy that no one else has raised an issue with, and I have more people above us agreeing with me than you. Please Wendi, work on your critical thinking skills.

Wendi

Okay. Silly, but here goes: 1. Vegans and women are not an equitable comparison because one is a choice and one is a biological fact. 2. Vegans are unlikely to want to work at McDonald’s as they are usually against any form of animal slaughter. Women do, in fact, in large numbers seek to work in the industry and do like movies. I could go on and on and on about that analogy, but seriously? Please work on your critical thinking skills.

Will

Also Wendi, if you think my analogy is flawed, then please back it up with an argument backed up in facts and experience. You have yet to do this.

Will

Here you go Wendi.
"Do I have the pleasure of speaking with Wilhemina? Or, should I just thank you for mansplaining the industry to me?"
You said that. You attacked me personally and made a variety of assumptions about me because I am a male, just like you have been doing repeadtely throughout this conversation in regards to males as a whole. The fact that your completely neglecting to even counter any of the valid points I’ve made has done nothing but disprove your childish ramblings that your trying to pass off as the truth.

Wendi

Will, please do show me where I "name called." Second, I did not identify feminist to you or anyone, but neither did I deny I was a feminist. My point was that you are hurling assumptions at me, and you have made it very personal. I came on to comment to Dan why I thought it was an important article/subject. I only pointed out that your analogy was seriously flawed because it is. I’m done.

Brenda

I think what Will is trying to say is that the "industry" being referred to is Hollywood, which no one is denying is unbias. However, in the film world overall, there ARE ways for women to make films and make a name for themselves in the Indie filmmaking realm. There were a lot of women filmmakers featured at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, for example. Besides isn’t making films about the art of it? Or is it just about making money?

Dan

"There are millions of women filmmakers being denied access to the industry on all levels." Source?

Will

*, just like within certain fields there may be more women interested in that particular area then there are men. My apologies with the excessive grammatical errors.

Will

Wendi, I don’t have any guilt with name calling you, you were the first person who was childish enough to start the name calling. To call me out on it makes you, in fact, look like a spoiled child. Sorry to break it to you, but when you fight for the struggle of women, you’re being a feminist, and through your logic (which is founded in your best friend working in mainstream side of this industry) you’re coming off as extremely misinformed. I was in a training program withe one of the women who made this list, and I can tell you, she accomplished her goal by making her own path. Thats what women do in the indie industry, and it’s as liberal and as artsy as it gets. You really don’t have a clue about your so called "oppression" happening in this area of the field. As I stated, the percentage does show there are fewer women working in Hollywood, but as someone who has interviewd people for these jobs and seen applications, most of it has to do with that fact That there aren’t as many women interested in filmmaking as men, just like there are more women who are interested a particular field then some men are.

Wendi

Dan, Your original question was "why is it important?" I’ve answered your question. Will, I commented in a response to Dan’s question. I don’t recall ever identifying as feminist, so I’m not sure how I could be giving them a "bad name." I don’t have the energy, or the time to continue to go round and round with a man that just doesn’t get it. There are millions of women filmmakers being denied access to the industry on all levels. Yes, some make their own way in indie, but not without excessive struggle. Not sure how I come off as angry, or spoiled. You know nothing about me, my work, my experience, my education, yet you have the gall to say I come off as "spoiled." Way to be dismissive.

Will

And Wendi, just to clear the air and to relay this back to the article at hand, the reason I expressed this sentiment above, is because the writer of this article is throwing a blanket statement over the entire industry, when a "director for hire" situation really only occurs in Hollywood! The writer is simply creating issues where there aren’t any (in many areas), and did so with a poorly written article which completely ignores how the industry operates in reality.

Will

Bad name*, not bad day.

Will

Wendi, you just come off as an angry spoiled child. You give feminism a bad day with your lack of comprehension and jumping to conclusions attitude. You’re the reason why alot of people (this includes men and women) in the feminist movement aren’t taken seriously.

Will

Lol, did you even read what I wrote? Is Hollywood shutting out females? Obviously. But as I stated (and which you can’t seem to comprehend), hollywood isn’t the only way to get a film made, and not every film on this list was a Hollywood film! Hollywood is a horrible place that is anti-art, and for someone who is reading Indiewire, you apparently have absolutely no concern bout this fact! Many of the films mentioned were very successful indie films which made alot of money (I know you probably have never heard or seen any of them, because apparently to you Hollywood is the be all end all). Females in the Indie side of filmmaking OPEN THEIR OWN DOORS, and no one can hold a woman back if she wants to get an indie film made, and as far as I’ve experienced, the Indie film is always enthusiastic when a woman wants to direct (given the projects I’ve been involved with), the only thing that sucks is there isn’t more women who want to make films! Can you not understand the miscorrelation between your statistic, this article, and my comments?

Dan

So what should we do?

Wendi

We do want to be in the industry. Read my first comment. As I said, and many, many, many, many others have said, we are being shut out. How hard is that to understand? It’s called institutionalized sexism. The industry also suffers from institutionalized racism. None of this is shocking. It can change. It could change, but with attitudes like yours. It is highly unlikely it will.

Will

The issue of why there aren’t more women interested in filmmaking is an important one, but it is a separate issue from women being hired in the film industry. Some of the people in this thread don’t seem to understand the difference.

Will

Wendi, all your statistic does is raise the question, why aren’t their more females wanting to be in the industry, which has nothing to do with the females getting jobs in the industry. It’s two entirely different issues, and your statistic has no correlation with even the point that this writer is making (she didn’t even mention a 50% statistic, and if she did, she’s as delusional as you. You’re not making any sense. Is there a shortage of female’s in the industry? Since I work in it (and I have been to Hollywood meetings, mind you), I can tell you, there are more males, but that is irrelevant in correlation to the issue of females rising to become directors, and the hiring of females. All your doing is making my argument stronger, and making yourself look like a small minded person whose using feminism as a guise to deal express personal disenchantment. As someone who supports the feminist cause, you’re really confusing me.

Wendi

Dan, like I said before do some research. I mean real research then come back and try again. Melissa Silverstein explains, "So yes, women-directed movies make less money because female filmmakers are shut out of the opportunities to direct big-budget films. The industry’s persistent gender discrimination also inhabits Europe and creates an inevitable situation where the 16% of films that are directed by women make up 9% of the box-office pie." Check out her article in Forbes: "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason Is Highest Grossing…" Can’t post a link as it’s being read as spam, but there are more articles out there like Ms. Siverstein’s.

Dan

"Women make up over 50% of the population" why is that important? Does it mean that there is supposed to be 100 women directed film from top 200 in box office?

Wendi

Will, your analogy doesn’t make any sense. Try again. As Carol suggested, women make up over 50% of the population. Question for you, how many meetings did you take in "Hollywood" last year? Do I have the pleasure of speaking with Wilhemina? Or, should I just thank you for mansplaining the industry to me?

Dan

*and when isn’t

Dan

Viewer/customer is center of this universe. It has to start with viewer. Education, seminars, think tanks, family. You need intelligent viewers if you want them to watch (and want) films without stereotypes (not mentioning that stereotypes and empty characters can be good). You can’t regulate market or art. We need them to understand when steretype is bad and when it’s bad. But this is another problem, how to tell? Stereotypes can be hurtful and have bad impact and sometimes .. it’s just part of the game. Something auteur can include it in his work. Willingly, reasonably. It’s just not that simple.

Dan

Thank you for your answers. I know there is a connection between stereotypes on sceen and in real life. Stereotypes are bad (especially if sexist and racist). I’m not saying women and men are treated equaly (as they should be), we all know there is a problem. What I’m saying is, it’s mostly about the story and profit, right? Not about gender. And about artists. You are pointing out one example with your friend. I know there are dozens of these examples but I don’t think it’s just about "fear of change". It is Holywood. Market. Profit. What the mainstream viewer wants. And I do not approve this but that’s how it is. There are other places where this change has to start. Nobody wants anything like quotas for women in film.

Will

Carol and Wendi, you two are really misinformed. You can’t entirely point the blame at people not hiring women. Not every film on that list is a studio film, and in the indie realm, filmmakers make their own paths. No one is stopping women from going out and making indie films, like the ones who made it on this list. Once again, this just reads like click bait reporting from someone who doesn’t fully understand the rules of the game, and I even question if the person who wrote this has a true love or interest in cinema outside of using hollywood as a vehicle for their agenda. filmmaking exists outside of the studio system…

Complaining about Hollywood not hiring women is like complaining about McDonalds not fully catering to vegans. Hollywood is a system which panders to the lowest common denominator, and the people running these studios don’t even care about the artform. Unless you’re one of the few auteurs that breaks into the system with an established body of work (Nolan, Fincher, Jolie, etc.), why would anyone that considers themself an artist have anything to do with it?

Carol

To put it simply: It’s important, Dan, because women make up 52% of the population and are often not represented. When women are represented, many times it’s with one-dimensional stereotypes. This shapes the way society views women in real life. Life imitates art.

Wendi

It is important because there very large numbers of women interested in writing and directing films, but they are not being given the chance. They are being shut out. It is important because there are many worthy stories not being told. Research American film and television. There is a dearth of women in front of and behind the camera (insanely skewed percentages). Hollywood is a great example of institutionalized sexism that remains unchallenged. It’s not because the writing or directing isn’t as good. It’s because men don’t mentor women and women don’t mentor women. It’s because the powers that be are afraid of change. A friend of mine, a talented director and writer, was turned down from directing a tv show because the lead actor had "a bad experience with a female director." Can you imagine a lead actress refusing to work with a male director because she "had a bad experience" once? Of course not, it’s ridiculous, and wouldn’t be tolerated.

Dan

I may sound stupid but .. why is that important? I’m not meaning to offenseoffence anybody, just asking. Is it important because female characters are simplified? Or because we should want less male-centred film?

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