2019 saw a record number of the years' top movies helmed by female directors. This, according to a new study done by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. In recent years, there has been increased discussion in Hollywood in regards to diversity and inclusion, both in front of and behind the camera. Historically, female directors have had a very difficult time getting movies made, while men continue to dominate that part of the industry. But this study provides hope that things are changing.
According to the study, 2019 saw 10.6 percent of the year's 100 highest-grossing movies directed by women. Two of the biggest examples were hit Disney releases in the form of Frozen 2 and Captain Marvel. Jennifer Lee co-directed the animated sequel to Frozen with Chris Buck, which earned $1.2 billion worldwide. Anna Boden helmed the Marvel Cinematic Universe debut of Brie Larson's Carol Danvers alongside Ryan Fleck, which earned an impressive $1.1 billion.
One of the most promising examples is Hustlers, which was directed by Lorene Scafaria and earned a surprising $157 million at the global box office. Given its relatively minimal budget, it was a huge hit. The Farewell, directed by Lulu Wang, also did reasonably well in the arthouse market earning $19.6 million against very strong reviews. The movie is expected to be a contender at the Academy Awards this year. On that front as well is Greta Gerwig's latest, Little Women, which finished off 2019 very strong by bringing in $44 million following its late December release. This one still has a long way to go, as it's getting very strong word of mouth. Another highlight is Queen & Slim. Director Melina Matsoukas modern Bonnie and Clyde tale earned $40 million. And sure to be cult comedy hit Booksmart was directed by actress-turned-filmmaker Olivia Wilde.
This represents a major bump when compared to 2018, when just 4.5 percent of 2019's top-grossing movies were directed by women. Universal Pictures had the most projects from female directors in 2019, with five in total. Box office is so important in all of these cases, as studios make decisions based on money. If movies made by women continue to do well, studios will continue to give them the green light. It's the same reason every studio in town is trying to put together some type of big comic book movie, thanks to what Marvel has achieved for Disney.
Elsewhere, streaming and TV offer major opportunities for female filmmakers. 31 percent of episodic TV episodes were directed by women. Meanwhile, 20 percent of movies released by Netflix were directed by women. As for 2020, things look bright as well, with several major superhero movies, including Birds of Prey (Cathy Yan), Wonder Woman 1984 (Patty Jenkins), Black Widow (Cate Shortland) and Eternals (Chloe Zhao), all directed by women. Disney's Mulan is also being helmed by Niki Caro. While the industry still has a long way to go, things do seem to be trending in the right direction. This news comes to us via Vareity.