As Hollywood embraces diversity, jobs for female directors remain sparse


Two of the 19 come from women: Jennifer Lee co-directed Frozen II and Roxann Dawson directed Breakthrough, a faith-based drama. has 15 films, three of which have a woman behind the camera. More Explained

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Paramount said in a statement, “We recognize that, as an industry, we need to afford more opportunities to female film directors, and at Paramount we have publicly committed to doing a better job.” Paramount added that, under an initiative announced in February, all of the studio’s film and television projects must submit a “diversity and inclusion plan” before greenlight. Schulman, who is a former president of the advocacy group Women in Film, also pointed to the misconception that women are best at directing personal stories about women and romance, excluding them from opportunities to direct genres associated with men, like action, adventure, espionage, broad comedy, horror, sci-fi and others. Much of its output involves female-focused movies like the Amy Schumer vehicle I Feel Pretty, directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein. Even after years of being called to task for sidelining female filmmakers, studios as a whole continue to rely overwhelmingly on men to lead productions. Why the disconnect? Paramount is also participating in a Time’s Up-backed effort to boost opportunities for female directors. Jackson and Regina King. Smith at the University of Southern California. Universal touted a comedy starring black women (Little), an animated movie about a Chinese girl’s quest (Abominable) and a summer musical (Yesterday) with an actor of Indian descent playing the lead. Sony Pictures opted not to make a presentation at CinemaCon. At least 10 films with female directors are in development at Paramount, including a new Star Trek. But look a little closer at the movies on studio rosters — and who is directing them — and Hollywood’s inclusion narrative falls apart by one crucial measure. The studio has 13 movies on the remainder of its 2019 schedule. “We see it as an important competitive edge.” He added, however, “As a husband, a father and a human being in the world, I’m eager for the industry to collectively do better on this front.”
STX currently has six films headed to theaters by the end of the year, two of which have female directors. So, major studio films remain the slowest to embrace opportunity parity. By his calculation, 18% of all STX movies, past and present, have been (or are being) directed by women — and 14% have a woman as lead actor, director, producer and writer. Women are directing three of them: Charlie’s Angels (Elizabeth Banks); A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller); and Little Women (Greta Gerwig). Paramount presented a family adventure (Dora the Lost City of Gold) with a predominantly Latino cast, while Warner Bros. Advertising

“We have not seen any meaningful increase,” she said, “in the percentage of women film directors over the last 20 years.”

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Comment(s) Warner will release a pair of female-led superhero movies of its own in 2020 — Wonder Woman 1984, from Patty Jenkins, and Birds of Prey, from Cathy Yan. “I think that is becoming increasingly more important, but I would say the business is slower to see the connectivity.”
That most studios employ few female directors would not surprise anyone who has been paying attention to the research from academics like Stacy L. The first is Poms, a comedy from Zara Hayes that arrives on May 10. The higher the financial risk, though, the less confidence decision makers have in hiring women. “We’re proud of our track record of making films for, with and by women,” Fogelson said. The only studio executive who agreed to be interviewed for this article was Adam Fogelson, the chairman of STXfilms Motion Picture Group, a 5-year-old operation. Studios have multiple explanations (some would say excuses), but one big reason involves a lack of economic pressure. Disney, Warner, Universal and Sony declined to comment or did not respond to a request for comment. Widening the aperture makes the picture more positive for every studio. Disney recently released Captain Marvel, with Anna Boden as a director; in the works are two more Marvel films from women (Black Widow and The Eternals). Martha Lauzen, the executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film and a professor at San Diego State University, cited research showing that women accounted for 8% of directors working on the top 250-grossing movies of 2018, down 1 percentage point from 1998. Latest Videos

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So the of-the-moment snapshot provided by the recent studio presentations is striking. But Fogelson said a few months’ worth of films did not give a sufficient assessment. Popular Photos

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Have you seen these photos of Ranveer Singh, Madhuri Dixit and Karisma Kapoor? Four come from women, including Little, which arrived over the weekend and was directed by Tina Gordon, and Queen & Slim, a November drama directed by Melina Matsoukas. (The next one is The Sun Is Also a Star, a romance from Ry-Russo-Young, which Warner will release on May 17.) Paramount currently plans to release seven movies by the end of the year; The Rhythm Section, a thriller, is the only one directed by a woman. Moviegoers have been responding favorably to diverse casting and stories (Us, Crazy Rich Asians, Black Panther), prompting studios to serve up more. Fewer ticket-buying decisions are made based on the gender of the filmmaker, however. Advertising

“Does a consumer care about how something is made versus what they see onscreen?” Cathy Schulman, an Oscar-winning producer (Crash), said in an interview. (That would be Reed Morano, best known as a cinematographer.)
Universal Studios has 15 movies with release dates through December. Advertising

For the first time, the importance of onscreen diversity came across as more than lip service. During its session on April 3 at CinemaCon, a convention staged by the National Association of Theater Owners, Disney unveiled a 19-film slate for the rest of 2019, including a batch of movies from the newly acquired 20th Century Fox. But most reports on Hollywood hiring offer a rearview portrait; compiling comprehensive data requires a lag. Warner Bros. promoted a Shaft sequel starring Samuel L.