Change comes slowly, at least in Hollywood. In its latest study, “Inclusion in the Director’s Chair? Gender, Race & Age of Directors across 1,000 films from 2007-2017,” the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative identified that, of a total of 109 film directors associated with the 100 top movies of 2017, a full 92.7% were male and 7.3% were female. It’s a slight uptick over the percentages that cover the last 11 years and 1,100 movies, which found that 95.7% of all directors were male and 4.3% were female. You can read the full report right here.
Most of these movies, of course, come from the studio world, the home of the big blockbusters, the major moneymakers, and the kind of opportunities that continue to elude the vast majority of female filmmakers working in the contemporary era. And yet a look forward at the studio-backed selections hitting the big screen in the next two years signals that the tide is turning, or at least is starting to.
For one thing, there’s a major rise in female filmmakers helming popular franchise features, especially at Disney and Warner Bros., which have female-directed efforts in both the Marvel Cinematic Universe (“Captain Marvel”) and the DC Extended Universe (Patty Jenkins’ return to “Wonder Woman,” Cathy Yan’s “Birds of Prey”), along with Disney Princess tales like a live-action “Mulan” and the much-hyped “Frozen 2.”
Other directors are getting second or third studio gigs, including Catherine Hardwicke, Stella Meghie, and Marielle Heller, while plenty of talented filmmakers are joining the studio world for the first time, like Julia Hart, Ry Russo-Young, Alethea Jones, and Oscar nominee Greta Gerwig.
Certain studios have a number of offerings from female directors coming down the pipe in the next two years, including Sony, Universal, and Warner Bros., as each has over five films in the works. Paramount and Fox, however, could both really stand to beef up on their selections, with Paramount only having one planned feature (Reed Morano’s “The Rhythm Section”) and Fox having just two.
It’s important to note, however, that each studio still has a number of scheduled films that not only haven’t been announced yet, but have yet to officially attach filmmakers. Perhaps women are already in line for some of those jobs. And with Sundance kicking off later this month, distributors will be hitting the trail to pick up finished films for distribution, including those helmed by women. (This year’s festival will offer plenty of options: of this year’s features, 40% were directed by women.)
Other previous entries have fallen by the wayside, including a pair of Michelle MacLaren-directed features: her long-gestating “The Nightingale” adaptation (not to be confused with the Jennifer Kent-directed “The Nightingale,” which will screen at Sundance) was once set to debut in January, but is currently in production limbo, while her “Cowboy Ninja Viking” movie shut down in August and hasn’t resumed filming.
Elsewhere, Floria Sigismondi’s “The Turning” no longer has a set 2019 release date in the United States, though it will open in Europe in the coming months. Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “Silver and Black” comic book adaptation moved off a planned February 2019 release date when its production schedule changed, but it might still make the 2020 schedule.
Check out the list of upcoming female-directed features below, as divided by studio. (As with our previous lists from last year and the year before, we will update as new films are added to various slates.) As of this writing, there are 24 films directed by women in the studio offing, the highest number since IndieWire began tracking current studio schedules. (Last updated on November 21, 2019.)
“The Rhythm Section,” directed by Reed Morano, to be released January 31, 2020 (date changed)
Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Pictures Classics
“Miss Bala,” directed by Catherine Hardwicke, released February 1, 2019
“Charlie’s Angels,” directed by Elizabeth Banks, released November 1, 2019
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” directed by Marielle Heller, to be released November 22, 2019
“Little Women,” directed by Greta Gerwig, to be released December 25, 2019
“Barbie,” directed by Alethea Jones, to be released TBD 2020
Twentieth Century Fox and Fox Searchlight
“Breakthrough,” directed by Roxann Dawson, released April 17, 2019
“American Princess,” directed by Stella Meghie, TBD 2020
Universal Pictures and Focus Features
“The Mustang,” directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, released March 15, 2019
Focus Features / screencap
“Little,” directed by Tina Gordon Chism, released April 12, 2019
“A Dog’s Journey,” directed by Gail Mancuso, released May 17, 2019
“Abominable,” co-directed by Jill Culton, released September 27, 2019
“Harriet,” directed by Kasi Lemmons, released November 1, 2019
“Queen & Slim,” directed by Melina Matsoukas, to be released November 27, 2019
“The Turning,” directed by Floria Sigismondi, to be released January 24, 2020
“Candyman,” directed by Nia DeCosta, to be released June 12, 2020 (added November 27, 2018)
Walt Disney Pictures/Buena Vista
“Captain Marvel,” co-directed by Anna Boden, released March 8, 2019
“Frozen 2,” co-directed by Jennifer Lee, to be released November 22, 2019
“Stargirl,” directed by Julia Hart, to be released TBD 2019 (will now air on Disney+)
“Mulan,” directed by Niki Caro, to be released March 27, 2020
“Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase,” directed by Katt Shea, released March 15, 2019
“The Sun Is Also a Star,” directed by Ry Russo-Young, released May 17, 2019
“The Kitchen,” directed by Andrea Berloff, released August 9, 2019 (date moved February 25, 2019)
“Blinded by the Light,” directed by Gurinder Chadha, released August 14, 2019 (added February 17, 2019)
“Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” directed by Cathy Yan, to be released February 7, 2020
“Wonder Woman 1984,” directed by Patty Jenkins, to be released June 5, 2020