by Kathy Conroy, Vice President and COO, National Association of Theatre Owners
Women are underrepresented in movies, as well as in leadership positions at organizations that produce, distribute, and exhibit movies. Through her work at the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Geena Davis is shining a light on gender imbalance in entertainment. Many readers will recall the Academy Award winner's powerful presentation at CinemaCon 2013, in which the she described and quantified the degree to which women and girls are underrepresented and misrepresented in Hollywood movies targeted to children ages 11 and under. Crowd scenes in movies rated G, PG, and PG-13, for example, averaged female representation of only 17 percent, sending the message that women and girls don't take up as much space as men and boys. The Geena Davis Institute's research suggests that the percentage of speaking female characters in top-grossing movies has not meaningfully changed in roughly 50 years. Further, women and girls are often stereotyped and sexualized when they are depicted in popular content.
Now, as Hollywood is embracing new audiences and opportunities in international markets, the Geena Davis Institute has conducted new research that explores whether the underrepresentation and misrepresentation of women and girls in entertainment is an American phenomenon or if it extends beyond U.S. borders. The institute partnered with the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism to explore the visibility and the nature of female depictions in films worldwide. The result was "Gender Bias Without Borders," a study that analyzes female character representation and portrayals in popular films across the 10 most profitable theatrical territories internationally-Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United Kingdom-and compares them to the United States. The quantitative study looked at films released between January 1, 2010, and May 1, 2013, with a rating "roughly equivalent" to the MPAA rating of G, PG, or PG-13 and examined key data points including gender representation, portrayals, attributes, sexuality, and careers.
A total of 5,799 speaking or named characters in the sample were evaluated for gender representation and found to be 69.1 percent male and 30.9 percent female, a gender ratio of 2.24 males to every one female. The imbalance was heightened in some genres. Action-adventure films depicted significantly fewer females (23 percent) in comparison to the average (30.9 percent), whereas comedy (32.8 percent), drama (34.2 percent), and animated (29.3 percent) movies were closer to the average.
The study found that the gender of the director and writer was related to the onscreen portrayal of girls and women. Films with a female director attached had 6.8 percent more females on screen than those without a female director. Historically, women have been underrepresented in the role of director. There have been notable exceptions, of course. Extraordinary women like Ida Lupino, Penny Marshall, Barbra Streisand, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Betty Thomas, Nora Ephron, Kathryn Bigelow, and Diablo Cody have been successful despite Hollywood's tendency to restrict the range given to female directors. The underrepresentation of female writers, producers, and directors was examined in the recent study. Out of a total of 1,452 filmmakers in the study, 20.5 percent were female and 79.5 percent were male. This translates into a gender ratio behind the camera of 3.9 males to every one female. Women comprised 7 percent of directors, 19.7 percent of writers, and 22.7 percent of producers across the sample, as this country-by-country breakdown illustrates:
The study looked not only at prevalence, but also at the portrayal of women and girls. It examined the way in which characters were depicted, with special attention to the demographics, stereotypes, and occupations of the speaking characters. Male characters held disproportionately more positions of power than their female counterparts in the 120 movies in the sample. Few female characters filled executive positions in the C-suite. Of the 79 executives shown across the sample, only 13.9 percent were female. Female characters in academics, sports, and religion faced a similar struggle, as this chart illustrates:
There is reason to believe that onscreen gender balance and gender depiction are improving. There have been several movies in the past few years that have included notably nonstereotyped depictions of girls and women-Brave, The Fault in Our Stars, Frozen, Gravity, The Hunger Games, Maleficent, and others. Perhaps a trend toward serious and diverse roles for women has begun. At the same time, more women are producing, writing, and directing. It was inspiring to see Angelina Jolie, for example, stand before the audience at CinemaCon 2014, not as a glamorous movie star, but as a producer and director speaking with great passion about her project, Unbroken.
This fall, Geena Davis and her colleagues convened decision makers interested in the empowerment of women and girls at symposia held in New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. John Fithian and I had the opportunity to attend the Washington, D.C., event titled, "Second Symposium on Gender in the Media." The program featured keynote remarks by Davis, a presentation of the "Gender Bias Without Borders" research results by Stacy Smith of the USC Annenberg School, and a panel of thought leaders discussing, "Stories from Around the World: Empowering Women and Girls Through Film." Elizabeth Frank, chief content and programming officer, AMC Theatres, participated in the panel that discussed the impact of global film on women and girls, as well as best practices to drive change.
The presentations that afternoon led to the undeniable conclusion that gender inequality is rampant in global films. Not one country is anywhere near representing the reality that girls and women comprise fully half of humanity. Half. Not 30.9 percent. Half. It is critical that exhibition and distribution, with a customer base that is at least half female, address this imbalance. One might ask, but what can I do?
Content creators can do a lot to affect change, and many are stepping up to the plate. Davis reported that 68 percent of the entertainment-industry executives familiar with the message said they had used the institute's research in two or more projects, and 41percent had used the findings in three or more projects. When asked what they had changed, over 25 percent had changed the aspirations or occupations of female characters or their dialogue. "If she can see it, she can be it," one of the institute's key messages, is taking root. Davis makes the point that, while gender equality in "the real world" will take years to achieve, underrepresentation of girls and women on screen can be fixed immediately. "In the time it takes to make a movie, we can change what the future looks like," she said. "There are woefully few women CEOs in the world, but there can immediately be lots of them in films."
It's not only content creators who can positively affect change. Leaders in all segments of the industry can be advocates for gender equality. Exhibitors can be aware of gender balance when making decisions about what content to play on their screens. Choose to show gender-balanced films on your screens. Exhibitors and distributors can create and maintain inclusive workplaces. Choose inclusiveness. Research suggests that gender balance is directly related to good decision making. Diverse inputs from individuals with different backgrounds result in better outcomes. Inclusiveness is not only the right thing to do; it's the smart thing to do. Engage women and men as advocates for change. To hear a compelling argument, listen to Emma Watson's speech before the United Nations as part of the HeForShe campaign.
Senator Amy Klobuchar from my home state of Minnesota recently shared some advice she was given regarding how to best advocate for gender equality: "Speak softly and carry a big statistic." She rejected the "speak softly" part, noting her preference to speak with passion, but she agreed wholeheartedly with the importance of having solid data. The Geena Davis Institute provides an abundance of entertainment industry-specific data to support the message. Read the research findings. The institute's website is aptly named www.seejane.org. Think about the data and incorporate it in your decision making.
Celebrate the women in your organizations and industry. NATO applauds BoxOffice Pro for publishing "Women in Exhibition and Distribution" in the February 2013 issue. Last year the magazine recognized five exceptional women in exhibition and distribution-Amy Miles (Regal), Pat Gonzalez (Paramount), Nora Dashwood (ArcLight), Elizabeth Frank (AMC), and Nikki Rocco (Universal). BoxOffice Pro continued its focus on women in its October 2014 issue by recognizing nine women who are making significant contributions to the industry-Marianne Abiaad (Royal Corporation), Susie Beiersdorf (Sony Electronics), Mariana Hong (MasterImage 3D), Belinda Judson (NATO Regionals), Pat Marshall (Cineplex), Kelly O'Connor (Warner Bros.), Shelly Olesen (C. Cretors and Company), Darryl Schaffer (Screenvision), and Ann Stadler (Marcus Theatres).
NATO celebrated Nikki Rocco this fall at NATO's advisory board meeting as she prepares to step down as president of domestic distribution at Universal Pictures after 47 years at the studio. Rocco was the first woman to be named, in 1996, to head a major studio's theatrical distribution operations. Thank you, Nikki Rocco, for providing women throughout the industry with a most positive representation of female executive leadership. "If they can see it, they can be it."
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies continues to dominate the global box office. The film expanded to 22 additional territories, finishing the weekend with $105.5 million from more than 19 thousand screens across 59 markets. The film has now grossed a total of $265 million outside of North America.
South Korea leads the new markets with a $10.4 million first-place debut from 927 screens. The film registered the biggest opening of the year in Spain with $6.3 million from 733 screens. Italy enjoyed a $5.6 million bow from 578 screens. Germany continues to lead hold-over markets with a $12.4 million take from 1,442 screens to reach a $37.7 million market cume. The film retained the top spot in the United Kingdom with an $8 million tally from 1,490 screens, hitting a $31.4 million cume. France also held on to the top spot with a $7.5 million take from 914 screens, bringing its market cume up to $24.85 million. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies has grossed a worldwide total of $353.4 million. Other leading hold-overs include Russia ($4.8M Weekend on 2,390 Screens / $21.5M Cume), Brazil ($3.3M Weekend on 1,042 Screens / $13.1M Cume), Sweden ($1.9M Weekend on 300 Screens / $9M Cume), Mexico ($2.7M Weekend on 1,831 Screens / $10.9M Cume), and Japan ($1.3M Weekend on 640 Screens / $5.3M Cume). The film expands to Australia next weekend and has currently grossed $353.4 million worldwide.
Penguins of Madagascar opened in three new markets, taking advantage of the occasion to add $16.5 million to its overseas haul. The film opened in Mexico with a $4.9 million take from 2,320 screens. France premiered to a $4.2 million take from 727 screens. The animated film has grossed a total of $135.6 million outside of North America and is closing in to a major milestone with $199.6 million worldwide.
Big Hero 6 expanded to five new markets this weekend, finishing its latest frame overseas with an $11.5 million haul. Japan opened to $5.3 million, the second biggest debut for a Disney Animation film in the market -only trailing Frozen by 18%. Spain enjoyed a $1.7 million debut while Italy opened to $1.4 million. Big Hero 6 has grossed a total of $81.6 million from 38 territories and $272 million worldwide. Top markets include Russia ($20.1M), Mexico ($15.9M), and Malaysia ($5.9M). The film expands to several markets next weekend, including Brazil, Australia, and South Africa.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb discovered $10.8 million overseas in its global day-and-date debut. The film begins its theatrical run with a $29.9 million global haul. Among the top markets, The UK took a $2.9 million opening from 659 locations as Germany finished its first weekend with $2.1 million from 611 screens. Hong Kong opened in first place with $1.5 million. The film will expand to another 23 markets next weekend, including Mexico, Spain and Australia.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 earned $9.3 million from 82 territories over the weekend. The film has grossed a total of $350.5 million overseas and $639.7 million worldwide. Top markets include the United Kingdom ($44.9M), Germany ($35.2M), Australia ($26.5M), France ($23.7M), Mexico ($22.9M), and Brazil ($21.5M).
Exodus: Gods and Kings hit a major global milestone after taking $7.6 million from the weekend, following an expansion to 11 new markets. The film has now grossed a total of $61.9 million overseas and $100.3 million worldwide.
Interstellar took $4.5 million from 57 markets over the weekend. Christopher Nolan's sci-fi epic has grossed a total of $4464 million overseas. Leading markets include China ($122.6M), South Korea ($72.8M), UK ($31.6M), Russia ($25.5M), and France ($21.8M). The film has grossed a total of $635.4 million worldwide.
Horrible Bosses 2 took $2.7 million from 49 markets in its latest frame overseas. The film has grossed a total of $37.2 million outside of North America, led by the UK ($5.7M), Australia ($3.8M), Russia ($3.3M), Germany ($3M), and Brazil ($2.6M). The comedy expands to France on Christmas Eve, Spain on New Years Day, and Italy on January 8. Horrible Bosses 2 has grossed $84.9 million worldwide.
Sunday Update: Warner's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies easily led the weekend box office with an estimated $56.22 million. The third and final chapter of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy has grossed $90.63 million through its first five days of release. On the heels of a sharper than expected percentage decline on Thursday, the film rebounded nicely over the weekend and registered a five-day to three day ratio of 1.61 to 1. The five-day debut of The Battle of the Five Armies was 11 percent below the $102.05 million five-day start of 2002's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (which also opened on a Wednesday) and 5 percent ahead of the $86.14 million five-day start of last year's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (which opened on a Friday).
The Battle of the Five Armies grossed $16.58 million on Friday, increased 29 percent on Saturday to take in $21.43 million and is estimated to decline 15 percent on Sunday to gross $18.22 million. That places the film's estimated weekend to Friday ratio at 3.39 to 1, which is obviously inflated by the film opening on a Wednesday. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies received an encouraging A- rating on CinemaScore.
IMAX grosses were responsible for $7.70 million of the film's overall gross this weekend. Thus far The Battle of the Five Armies has grossed $13.62 million from 360 IMAX locations. That represents 15 percent of the film's overall domestic gross. The audience breakdown for the film skewed towards male moviegoers (60 percent) and moviegoers over the age of 25 (60 percent).
It what turned out to be a closer than expected race for second, Fox's Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb was able to outpace Sony's Annie with an estimated opening weekend take of $17.3 million. The two films clearly split up the family audience this weekend and may remain close to one another throughout the rest of the holiday season. While it was able to claim second, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb opened significantly below pre-release expectations. The third installment of the Ben Stiller led franchise had already been expected to see a significant drop-off from the performance of its predecessor, 2009's Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (which debuted with $54.17 million in its first three days). Secret of the Tomb debuted 26 percent below the $23.24 million start of 2011's Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb opened with $5.63 million on Friday, increased 16 percent on Saturday to gross $6.50 million and is estimated to decrease 20 percent on Sunday to gross $5.18 million. That places the film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 3.08 to 1. Family films tend to hold up very well throughout the holiday season and that will likely be the case for Secret of the Tomb. The film received a B+ rating on CinemaScore.
Annie debuted in third with an estimated $16.3 million. The musical remake starring Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz opened towards the lower end of pre-release expectations. That is good news for Sony, especially after the events of the past week that led to the cancellation of the studio's release of The Interview. Annie trailed Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb by just $1.0 million this weekend. Annie opened 30 percent below the $23.24 million debut of the previously mentioned Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.
Annie started out with $5.3 million on Friday, increased 15 percent on Saturday to gross $6.1 million and is estimated to fall 20 percent on Sunday to gross $4.9 million. That gives the film an estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio of 3.08 to 1. Like Secret of the Tomb, Annie is likely to hold up nicely throughout the holiday season, though between the two films, it will face more direct competition from Disney's Into the Woods starting on Christmas Day. Annie received a promising A- rating on CinemaScore, which strongly suggests that the film is going over much better with audiences than it has with critics.
Fox's Exodus: Gods and Kings landed in fourth with an estimated $8.07 million. The pricey Ridley Scott directed biblical epic starring Christian Bale was down a very sharp 67 percent from last weekend's debut. Poor reviews, mixed word of mouth and direct competition from The Battle of the Five Armies are all clearly taking a toll on the film. Exodus: Gods and Kings has grossed a soft $38.90 million in ten days. That places the film 7 percent behind the $41.87 million ten-day take of Son of God earlier this year.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 followed closely behind in fifth with an estimated $7.75 million. The third installment of Lionsgate's blockbuster franchise was down a solid 39 percent from last weekend. Mockingjay - Part 1 has grossed $289.23 million in 31 days, which leaves it just $10.77 million away from becoming the second release of 2014 to reach the $300 million domestic milestone.
In its first weekend of wide release Fox Searchlight's Wild took in an estimated $4.15 million to place in sixth. The critically acclaimed drama starring Reese Witherspoon claimed a per-location average of $3,911 from 1,061 locations. Wild has grossed $7.21 million in 19 days of release.
Saturday Update: Warner's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies took in an estimated $16.58 million on Friday to lead the daily box office for a third consecutive day. The third and final chapter of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy increased a strong 66.5 percent over Thursday. Friday's daily hold was a good sign for the film after the sharper than anticipated percentage decline it experienced on Thursday. In comparison, 2002's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers increased 39 percent on its first Friday to gross $19.22 million.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies has grossed $50.98 million in three days, which places it 14 percent behind the $59.26 million three-day start of The Two Towers. BOXOFFICE currently projects $54.0 million over the weekend for The Battle of the Five Armies and a five-day start of $88.41 million. That would be in the same neighborhood as the $86.14 million five-day start of last year's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (which opened on a Friday).
IMAX grosses were responsible for $2.18 million of the film's overall gross on Friday. Thus far The Battle of the Five Armies has grossed $8.08 million from IMAX locations. That represents 15.8 percent of the film's overall domestic gross. The Battle of the Five Armies received an encouraging A- rating on CinemaScore.
It was a close race for second place on Friday, with Fox's Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb outpacing Sony's Annie with an estimated opening day performance of $5.625 million. The two films were separated by just $325,000 on Friday and are likely to remain fairly close to one another throughout the rest of the weekend (and perhaps throughout the rest of the holiday season as well). Secret of the Tomb opened 16 percent below the $6.71 million opening day take of 2011's Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. BOXOFFICE currently projects a $19.2 million debut for Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which would be below expectations. The film received a B+ rating on CinemaScore.
Annie claimed third place with an estimated $5.3 million. The musical remake starring Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz opened towards the higher end of expectations on Friday. That is welcome news for Sony, especially after the events of the past week that led to the cancellation of the studio's release of The Interview. Annie opened 21 percent below the opening day take of Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. BOXOFFICE is projecting a $17.5 million debut for Annie. The film received an promising A- rating on CinemaScore.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 inched ahead of Exodus: Gods and Kings to take fourth place on Friday with an estimated $2.28 million. The third installment of Lionsgate's blockbuster franchise was down a solid 39 percent from last Friday. Mockingjay - Part 1 has grossed $283.76 million in 29 days, which leaves it $16.24 million away from becoming the second release of 2014 to reach the $300 million domestic milestone. BOXOFFICE currently estimates a $7.8 million take for Mockingjay - Part 1 this weekend.
Fox's Exodus: Gods and Kings landed in fifth with an estimated $2.275 million. The pricey Ridley Scott directed biblical epic was down a very sharp 74 percent from last Friday's opening day take. Poor reviews, mixed word of mouth and direct competition from The Battle of the Five Armies are all clearly taking a toll on the film. Exodus has grossed an underwhelming $33.11 million through eight days. BOXOFFICE projects $7.7 million for Exodus: Gods and Kings this weekend, which would represent a 68 percent slide.
On its first day of wide release, Fox Searchlight's Wild took in an estimated $1.175 million from 1,061 locations. The critically acclaimed drama starring Reese Witherspoon has grossed $4.24 million in 17 days. BOXOFFICE is projecting $3.75 million for Wild this weekend.
Friday Update: Early reports indicate that The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies should easily hit $80 million after its first five days in theaters. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is on pace for $25 million-$26 million during its debut frame. Meanwhile, Annie is set for $18 million-$19 million, which is a strong enough start for a film that will play well through the holidays.
Check back tomorrow for official studio numbers and updated weekend projections.
By Daniel Garris
Warner's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies took in $9.96 million on Thursday. The third and final chapter of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy was down a sharp 59 percent from Wednesday's performance. The large daily percentage decline on Thursday isn't the greatest initial sign going forward, though it should be noted that such a large percentage of Wednesday's reported gross coming from Tuesday night shows does inflate Thursday's percentage decrease a bit. In comparison, 2002's The Two Towers fell 47 percent on its first Thursday to gross $13.88 million. With a two-day start of $34.41 million, The Battle of the Five Armies is running 14 percent behind the $40.04 million take of The Two Towers. At its current pace, The Battle of the Five Armies appears headed for a five-day start in the neighborhood of $85 million.
Fox's Exodus: Gods and Kings held steady in second place with $1.22 million. The pricey Ridley Scott directed biblical epic starring Christian Bale was down 7 percent from Wednesday. Exodus: Gods and Kings placed in second for the week (behind The Battle of the Five Armies) with a seven-day start of $30.84 million. While that was on the low end of pre-release expectations, the film is off to an underwhelming start with its price tag in mind and has been displaying early signs of being significantly front-loaded for a December release.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 took in $1.09 million to remain in third. The third installment of Lionsgate's blockbuster franchise increased 6 percent over Wednesday and was down a healthy 24 percent from last Thursday. Mockingjay - Part 1 placed in third for the week with $17.28 million. That represented a 38 percent decline from the previous frame and brings the film's four-week total to $281.48 million. Mockingjay - Part 1 is now $18.52 million away from becoming the second release of 2013 to reach the $300 million domestic milestone.
Penguins of Madagascar placed in fourth for the day with $0.502 million. The 3D computer animated film from Fox and DreamWorks Animation was up 9 percent from Wednesday and down only 2 percent from last Thursday. Penguins of Madagascar placed in fourth for the week with $9.11 million. That was down 30 percent from the previous week and brings the film's 23-day total to an underwhelming $60.65 million.
Paramount's Top Five continued to claim sixth place with $0.439 million. The critically acclaimed comedy starring and directed by Chris Rock was down 2 percent from Wednesday. Top Five rounded out the week's top five with a seven-day start of $8.89 million, which was on the low end of expectations. The film will be playing in 1,307 locations this weekend.
By Daniel Garris
Warner's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies debuted with $24.45 million on Wednesday. That figure includes the estimated $11.2 million the film grossed from Tuesday night shows (which represented a very significant 45.8 percent of the film's opening day gross).
The Battle of the Five Armies opened 22 percent below the $31.19 million opening day performance of last year's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, though that was expected given that The Desolation of Smaug opened on a Friday. The Battle of the Five Armies opened 6.5 percent below the $26.16 million Wednesday start of 2002's The Two Towers, which went on to gross $102.05 million in its first five days of release. Given that The Battle of the Five Armies will likely experience more initial front-loading in comparison; the last chapter of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy appears to be on course for a five-day start in the area of $88 million to $95 million.
After leading the daily box office for the previous five days, Fox's Exodus: Gods and Kings fell to second on Wednesday with $1.31 million. The pricey Ridley Scott directed biblical epic starring Christian Bale was down a sharp 41 percent from Tuesday. Clearly Exodus: Gods and Kings took a big hit from the arrival of The Battle of the Five Armies in the marketplace. Exodus: Gods and Kings has grossed $29.61 million in six days of release. That places the film an underwhelming 2 percent behind the $30.2 million six-day start of the far less expensive Son of God earlier this year.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 was down one spot and 25 percent from Tuesday to land in third with $1.02 million. The third installment of Lionsgate's blockbuster franchise was down a healthy 26.5 percent from last Wednesday. Mockingjay - Part 1 has grossed $280.39 million in 27 days. That leaves the film $19.61 million away from becoming the second release of 2013 to reach the $300 million domestic milestone. Mockingjay - Part 1 is running 22.5 percent behind the $361.59 million 27-day take of last year's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Paramount's Top Five placed in sixth for the day with $0.447 million. The critically acclaimed comedy starring and directed by Chris Rock was down one spot and a solid 24 percent from Tuesday. Top Five has grossed $8.44 million in six days of moderate release. The low-budget film continues to perform on the low end of expectations, but hopes to hold up well going forward thanks in part to strong critical reviews and planned expansions.