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New study finds movies starring women outperform male-led titles at box office

A new study exploring the gender influence at box office has found that films are the best performing titles. 

Creative Artists Agency and technology company Shift7 has found that  during the 2014-17 period, male-led films performed weaker than those with a female lead. 

The group who conducted the study, led by producer and former Sony Pictures Chairman Amy Pascal, shift7 CEO  Megan Smith and producer Liza Chasin, was born out of the #MeToo movement as they looked to explore the portrayal of women in media and entertainment.

“This is powerful proof that audiences want to see everyone represented on screen,” Pascal said of the results. “Decision-makers in Hollywood need to pay attention to this.”

According to a press release, in order to define a female-led film, each of the titles must past The Bechdel Test. The research showed that every film that surpassed $1 billion in global box office also passed the Bechdel Test. Another note finds that no film since 2012 has made $1 billion at the worldwide box office without passing the Bechdel test. 

“The perception that it’s not good business to have female leads is not true,”  Christy Haubegger, a C.A.A. agent who was part of the research team told the Times. “They’re a marketing asset,” she added.

The group set about analysing 350 top-grossing films that were released between 2014 – 2017. To detail their research, the group decided to categorise all films into five different budget levels to gain a wider understanding. The results show that earnings in each of the budget regions set out, female-led films outperformed those of male-led films at the box office.

“The Bechdel Test is a low bar to clear, and it’s surprising how many movies don’t clear it,” Chasin said of the study.  “Understandably, the studios think about the bottom line, so it’s great to see a growing body of data that should make it easier for executives to make more inclusive decisions.”