Study shows movies with strong female roles made more money in 2013

The days of the ditzy female film character concerned only with gaining a man’s love are far from over, but if Hollywood is smart, the end will get here a lot sooner. As it turns out, strong female roles nab more moviegoer cash than not. 

Coming from Vocativ, the study analyzes 2013’s top 50 box office hits against the Bechdel Test, which essentially serves as a way to evaluate a film’s treatment of women. As such, the Bechdel Test looks at films based on three criteria:

  1. At least two female roles
  2. Those female roles speak to each other
  3. And they speak to one another about something other than a man

Of the 50 films analyzed, around 36 percent (17 movies) passed the Bechdel test without question, with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire taking the top spot at $391 million. Despicable Me 2 followed at $368 million, and Man of Steel rounded out the top three with $291 million. 

And then there were the failures. Films like Monsters University, Star Trek Into Darkness, and The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug all failed the Bechdel Test miserably, but still raked in healthy profits of $268 million, $229 million, and $190 million, respectively. But, as you might note, those top three totals are markedly less than those of the films that passed the test with flying colors.

But, perhaps even more surprisingly, of the top 50 films of the year, there was just a single female director, Jennifer Lee, who co-directed Disney’s Frozen. So, while audiences might be clamoring for strong female characters that take charge, Hollywood is less excited both in terms of production and output.

Ultimately, though, the customer gets what the customer wants.