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It’s Not Getting Better for Women in Hollywood, But There Is a Silver Lining

It's Not Getting Better for Women in Hollywood, But There Is a Silver Lining

While the analysis draws disappointing conclusions about women both onscreen and behind-the-camera, there is a silver lining. Three key highlights:

-Women comprised 27% of creators, executive producers, producers, directors, writers, editors and directors of photography in 2013-2014. That’s one-percent down from 2012-2013.

-At 42%, there were less female characters with speaking roles in the last year — down one percent from 2012-2013.

-The good news? Women may be faring better behind the scenes–and they’re certainly making a difference. On programs with at least one female creator, 47% of the characters were women; on those without female creators, women accounted or 39% of the characters.  

This Fall, expect more female-driven TV series: ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” starring Viola Davis and exec-produced by Shonda Rhimes, and Jill Solloway’s wonderful “Transparent” on Amazon, among them.

It’s also worth noting that women fared well at this summer’s box office, which wasn’t dominated exclusively by fanboys. Actresses like Angelina Jolie, Shailene Woodley, Melissa McCarthy and Scarlett Johansson were stronger draws than their male cohorts — and had front-and-center roles in major movies.

Most important of all is the success of “Maleficent.” At a $750 million worldwide gross, it showed that a woman can propel an expensive ($170 million) summer blockbuster in the summer, just as Sandra Bullock did with “Gravity” last Fall to similar results.

Pundits are stepping up to address these issues. NYT’s AO Scott and Manohla Dargis write in a recent op-ed that representation of female characters in movies is improving: While Hollywood “can be mind-glowingly retrograde when it comes to women and girls,” the women of “The Hunger Games,” “Tracks,” “Carrie,” “Maleficent” and other female-led films suggest “our movies may be finally catching up to female Americans on the move.” 

But AO Scott is cautiously optimistic. In “The Death of Adulthood in American Culture” he writes that film is limping behind other art forms “in making room for the creativity of women.”

Also worth a look: An infographic over at Women and Hollywood shows that while independent film may be doing a better job than the studios at representing women, film and TV, and even the indies, have a long way to go.

Read the full Boxed In study over at Deadline here.

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