Representation of marginalized groups in the field of entertainment has been a raging issue over the past few years. While the Oscars finally decided to give a few nods to African-American actors during their 2017 nominations season, 2016 actually turned out to be the best year so far for films that have cast actresses to take the helm of their stories.

This study was conducted by the center for the study of women in film, and after analyzing the top 100 grossing films of the year, it concluded that 29 of these films were led by female protagonists.

This is a drastic increase of nearly 30% compared to the 22 films that had female leads in 2015.

The list of commercial successes included stellar critical hits such as “Arrival”, “Hidden Figures” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, along with box office giants like “Ghostbusters” and “Bad Moms”.

Interpreting the study

This revealing bit of data can actually be interpreted in quite a few ways according to Martha Mauzen, the researcher who authored this study. She says that this data should be encouraging for film makers and acts as standing proof that films featuring female character, when done right, can be just as successful commercially in comparison to male-driven movies.

She also said that this study could also be a sort of anomaly that may not repeat itself in the future for a number of reasons.

The researcher also pointed out that hiring female leads may be a quick fix to the gender equality debate in Hollywood, and may only be seen as the alternative to actually hiring more women directors and writers.

Diversity in Cinema

Most avid movie-goers would agree that Hollywood has started to stagnate a bit over the past decade in terms of the kind of projects being green-lit by producers.

The sheer number of sequels, prequels and reboots we have seen lately is proof of this stagnation.

It is not just a responsible decision to include more marginalized groups in the creative process, but is also what is best for the industry in general. Hopefully the increase in commercial success of female-driven films will encourage Hollywood to do just that.