The number of top-grossing films directed by women decreased in 2021 from 2020.
As noted in the 2021 Celluloid Ceiling report from San Diego State University (via Deadline), the number of female-directed films in the box office top 250 dropped from 18 to 17 per cent. When narrowed to the top 100 films, there’s a sharper decrease from 16 to 12 per cent.
There’s an increase however, when production roles like writers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers are included, jumping to 25 per cent from 2020’s 23 per cent.
The study analysed films viewed in theatres and at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, by considering women’s employment on recently released films on Digital Entertainment Group’s Watched At Home list. The study found that women accounted for 10 per cent of directors working on films in the Watched At Home category, up from 9 per cent in 2020.
Dr. Martha Lauzen, the study’s researcher, said: “Appearances can be deceiving. While Chloé Zhao won the Oscar last year for directing Nomadland, and Jane Campion is a front-runner in this year’s race for The Power Of The Dog, the percentage of women directing films actually declined in 2021.
“Basing our perceptions of how women are faring on the well-deserved fortunes of just a few high-profile women can lead us to inaccurate conclusions about the state of women’s employment.”
Along with Nomadland, Zhao also directed Marvel’s Eternals this year. Another big winner at the box office was Nia DaCosta’s 2021 reboot of Candyman, which took the number one spot at the US box office back in August, grossing $22.3million in its opening weekend.
In NME’s four-star review, Candyman is described as a “new take [that’s] so strong, it might even be an upgrade. Put another way, the new Candyman is the bee’s knees.”