We did a statistical analysis of films to test two claims: first, that films that pass the Bechdel test — featuring women in stronger roles — see a lower return on investment, and second, that they see lower gross profits. We found no evidence to support either claim.
On the first test, we ran a regression to find out if passing the Bechdel test corresponded to lower return on investment. Controlling for the movie’s budget, which has a negative and significant relationship to a film’s return on investment, passing the Bechdel test had no effect on the film’s return on investment. In other words, adding women to a film’s cast didn’t hurt its investors’ returns, contrary to what Hollywood investors seem to believe.
The total median gross return on investment for a film that passed the Bechdel test was $2.68 for each dollar spent. The total median gross return on investment for films that failed was only $2.45 for each dollar spent.
So why is it that movies that pass the Bechdel test have a better return-on-investment, but filmmakers of these films are given less money? FiveThirtyEight also discovered that when more women were involved in the production of a film, it was more likely to have female cast members. In other words, when one gender dominates the creative process for a picture, that shows on the screen. Under-representation behind the camera results in under-representation in front of the camera.
So here's an equation for you:
More women behind the camera = more women on screen = more money made at the box office
It's a win-win situation.