Despite Michelle Yeoh, et al, Hollywood still banks on movies with male leads

Viola Davis, Michelle Yeoh and Jenna Ortega may have topped the box office and won rave reviews but Hollywood still banks on movies with male leads

Viola Davis, Michelle Yeoh and Jenna Ortega may have topped the box office and won rave reviews in films such as ‘The Woman King’, ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ and ‘Scream’, but Hollywood still tended to bank on movies with male leads in 2022, reports ‘Variety’. A new survey of the top 100 grossing domestic releases found that women only accounted for 33 per cent of movie protagonists last year. That represented an infinitesimal two percentage point increase from 2021, according to the report by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.

And, says ‘Variety’, quoting the survey, don’t expect actresses to get as many lines as their male counterparts. Females accounted for 37 per cent of all speaking characters in 2022, up three percentage points from 34 per cent in 2021. Men had 63 per cent of speaking roles, and 0.1 per cent of were transgender. One speaking character was non-binary.

Hollywood also remained youth-obsessed, at least when it came to casting female roles, according to ‘Variety’. Women were also younger than men in movies. Thirty-six per cent of female characters were in their 30s, but only 14 per cent in their 40s.

The percentage of female characters in their 40s was actually lower in 2022 than in 2015 (20 per cent). Just 7 per cent of female characters were over 60.

“Age is not just an employment issue for actors,” Dr Martha M. Lauzen, the report’s author and the director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, told ‘Variety’.

Dr Lauzen added: “When female characters are relatively young, they are less likely to hold positions of great personal or professional power. Viola Davis and Cate Blanchett [who plays the lead in the Oscar-nominated ‘Tar’] are superb actors, but they are also convincing, at least in part, because they have achieved the gravitas and life experience needed to play those roles.”

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