Friday, October 31, 2014

More women behind the camera means more money at the box office

By now, all of us know the Bechdel test inside and out. The Bechdel test asks if a fiction film features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Using this test, FiveThirtyEight analyzed thousands of films to determine whether the presence (and importance) of women had an effect on a film's box office. Here is part of their analysis:

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.

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