National Association of Theatre Owners President and CEO John Fithian declared 2015 as a progressive year for women in the film industry Tuesday at CinemaCon.
“2015 will rock at the box office because it will be the year of women,” Fithian said to exhibitors at the conference.
Fithian’s claim is unusual in an industry in which a projected $11 billion domestic box office is predictably going to be based on sales for major male-oriented (starring, directed and targeted) blockbusters “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
However, Fithian based his prediction on recent successes. Films including “Insurgent,” “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Cinderella” all feature women in leading roles, contrasting the 12 percent of total films featuring women as leads in 2014.
“We have so much more to come with big female roles in horror, comedy, science-fiction, animation, family, western, thriller and action,” Fithian said. “Personally, I am so pleased that my daughter can see more women in leading roles than ever before.”
This is a great statement and an even more exciting prediction, as the film industry is arguably one of the worst in terms of equality.
But Fithian only acknowledges changes in representation within acting roles.
Realistically, while minor changes in the visible product of a final film and its stars suggest change, representation within production, direction and cinematography roles has not changed.
According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film’s 2014 report of women behind the scenes on the year’s 250 top films, women made up only 17 percent of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers.
For perspective of the direction the industry is moving, the same percentage of women made up such roles in 1998. And the fact that only 7 percent of 2014 films were directed by women means 93 percent were not directed by women.
Minuscule steps are being taken daily in the industry to fight such inequality: the recent box office hits with women in leading roles, Meryl Streep’s recent announcement that she will fund a lab for women screenwriters over 40 and Fithian’s half-hearted declaration.
But until the internal structure of the studio system provides equal representation and causes corresponding equality in the filmmaking process, no significant changes can be made.
Make it happen Hollywood.