With summer movie season upon us, a potential blockbuster opens each weekend on as many screens as possible throughout the local multiplex. By Sunday morning Hollywood executives know if they’ve got a hit or a flop. The choice this summer–Mission Impossible III, Superman Returns, Pirates of the Caribbean II–are highly reminiscent of summers past: boy-centric action films directed by men.
The sad truth is the trend is not new. But it occurs at a time when the film and media communities seem to believe that women in record numbers are powerful decision-makers in Hollywood. This perception began 18 months ago when a New York Times article, heralding “Hollywood’s New Old Girls’ Network,” declared that women “have finally buried the notion that Hollywood is a man’s world.”
But the reality today does not meet the perception. When that article was published in April 2005, women ran production at four of the six major Hollywood studios. Within the last week, the number fell to two and each of those women reports to a male boss.
Gender disparity runs rampant throughout the Hollywood studio system. Martha Lauzen from San Diego State University has tracked women working behind the scenes in top-grossing films for several years. The 2005 statistics are out and the news is grim. Lauzen’s The Celluloid Ceiling reports that “women comprised 17 percent of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.” The percentage was the same in 1998.
Looking only at directors, the most creative position in Hollywood, the numbers are humbling: women were at 7 percent in 2005, up from the year before but down from an all-time high of 11 percent in 2000. Other measurements confirm Lauzen’s research. The Director’s Guild reports only 13 percent women among its 7,400 directing members. Variety stats list just three women directors of 2005’s top 100 grossing movies. Angela Robinson comes in at number 38 with a remake of Herbie Fully Loaded, Nora Ephron at 42 with Bewitched and Clare Kilner at 88 with The Wedding Date. …