Women and the box office in 2008


If you haven’t already checked out Melissa Silverstein‘s excellent Women in Hollywood blog (which just won a TotalFilm.com 2009 Blog Award for Best Hollywood Blog!), this news will give you one more reason to do so.

Silverstein compiled the numbers for the top-grossing films of 2008 (stats are domestic grosses from Variety), and found that four of the top 20 were women-driven films.

The four big-hitters were:

#8 Twilight ($172,274 mil.)

#11 Sex and the City ($152,647 mil.)

# 12 Mamma Mia! ($144,051 mil.)

# 18 Juno ( $112,025 mil.)

Twilight, which featured a female director (Catherine Hardwicke), female writer (Melissa Rosenberg), and female star (Kristen Stewart), broke through the top 10 and is likely to be a franchise that will continue to bring in the big bucks over the next few years. This is good news for female viewers and, hopefully, for actresses and women in production. (Although, sadly, Hardwicke will not be among them.)

Rounding out the top 100 were:

# 37 27 Dresses ($76,808 mil.)

#45 Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana ($65,281 mil.)

#51 Baby Mama ($60,494 mil.)

#59 The House Bunny ( $48,237 mil.)

#60 Nim’s Island ($48,006 mil.)

#65 Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 ( $44,089 mil.)

#81 The Secret Life of Bees ( $37,463 mil.)

#85 Changeling ($35,627 mil.)

The good news I see in the rest of these stats is that girls and young women are proving to be viable film consumers (even though studios still push to have male leads in films for young people). Now all we have to do is get Hollywood to treat their older counterparts in kind.

In terms of box office, it was a great year for established stars like Meryl Streep (Mama Mia!), Tina Fey and Angelina Jolie (Changeling and Wanted), as well as for younger up-and-comers like Stewart, Anna Faris, Ellen Page, and America Ferrera.

The bad news, most of the movies in the top slots are about girls/women trying to get boys/men to like them. Only in the case of Baby Mama do we see any inkling of women pursuing one another and, despite what lesbians everywhere may wish about Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, they were “hooking up” in order for Fey to become a mom.

And it is a very racially un-diverse list, which means the movies that make the most money are still about straight white women chasing after straight white guys.

From looking at these statistics, I gathered one more bit of information: I’m a bad feminist film-goer! Of the top-grossing films, I only saw Baby Mama at the theatre on opening weekend, which is perhaps the most important time to go out and support a film. Clearly, I am part of the problem and have a lot of “work” to do, as going to movies is such a trial. (I give myself a pass on Sex and the City, though. A lesbian can only take so much!)

How about you? How many of the top-grossing, women-led films of 2008 did you see on opening weekend and/or in the theatre?