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)
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
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)
223. Land Ho! – Co-Directed by Martha Stephens ($727,594)
Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Martha Stephens
250. But Always (Yi Sheng Yi Shi) – Directed by Snow Zou ($430,760)
[via Box Office Mojo as of Jan. 7, 2015]