In the top grossing films of 2014, only 12 percent of protagonists were women, according to a study released by Dr. Martha Lauzen, the executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.
The word “protagonist” in this study is attached to a character from whom the perspective is told. Ironically, the biggest box-office numbers of the year went to a female heroine in the form of Katniss, as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 recently passed Guardians of the Galaxy as the top grossing film of 2014.
The numbers reflect a decline by 3 percent from 2013, as this year was big for films like Captain America: Winter’s Soldier, American Sniper and The Lego Movie which were all told from a male’s perspective and round out the top five films of the year.
“The chronic under-representation of girls and women reveals a kind of arrested development in the mainstream film industry,” Lauzen said in the release. “Women are not a niche audience and they are no more ‘risky’ as filmmakers than men. It is unfortunate that these beliefs continue to limit the industry’s relevance in today’s marketplace.”
While females made up 30 percent of speaking roles, the representation of racial groups was even lower, as 74 percent of female characters were white women. More than 2,300 characters were analyzed in the duration of the study.
Can we expect similar numbers in 2015? This year will be another big year in action films as Avengers: Age of Ultron, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, and Furious 7 are set to be released. But Katniss will be back in the final installment of The Hunger Games series to add a little girl power to the mix.