Monday, January 22, 2018

EDITORIAL: Hollywood Heads In The Right Direction As Female-Driven Films Lead The 2017 Box Office

In the year of #MeToo and the Time’s Up movement, Hollywood has been the center of a lot of negative press.  So, when a story hits that puts Hollywood in a more positive light, I feel it’s important to make sure it gets shared, so that we can see that there’s still some good out there.

2017 saw plenty of great films about women and diversity, most of which fall into the “Indie Film” category, but for the first time in nearly 60 years, the top three films at the domestic box office were films led by women.  Those films are Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast, and Wonder Woman.  It was back in 1958 that we last saw the top three films being led by women, with South Pacific, starring Mitzi Gaynor, Auntie Mame, starring Rosalind Russell, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, starring Elizabeth Taylor.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi, even with a very divisive audience reaction, has managed to bring in over $600 million domestically and almost $1.3 billion worldwide, while Beauty and the Beast has managed over $500 million domestic and over $1.25 billion worldwide, making up the top two domestic AND worldwide films in 2017.  The third domestic juggernaut of last year, Wonder Woman, made not only a huge cultural impact, but also a pretty large financial one, scoring just over $400 million at the domestic box office and over $820 million worldwide.  These films combined brought in over $3.3 billion worldwide, which is quite an impressive feat.

So what does this say about the film-going audience and our society in general today?  Well, for me, I’m given hope that this spells the beginning of a trend of acceptance for woman in leading roles.  No longer will the film landscape be completely dominated by white men as women and people of color are climbing these ranks and breaking out amongst mainstream audiences. 

And it seems that 2018 will continue this trend of diversity in film.  This year we will see films like Black Panther hit the scene, a huge Marvel Studios film with a predominately black cast.  This is something that hasn’t been seen before, and is one that will most likely land toward the top of the box office chart.  We will also see Ava DuVernay’s big budget adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time.  This looks like it could be a huge hit, and with a largely female main cast, is another film pushing the industry in a more progressive direction.

But those aren’t the only female-driven or POC-driven films coming up.  This year we get films like Tomb Raider, starring Alicia Vikander, which I have a lot of hope for, particularly because I want there to finally be a well-received video game movie, especially after Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed didn’t live up to the hype.  We’ll see the Alex Garland-directed Sci-Fi flick Annihilation, starring Natalie Portman, Red Sparrow, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Pacific Rim: Uprising, starring John Boyega, and Ocean’s Eight, Starring Sandra Bullock and a large cast of woman.  Oh, and don't forget about Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War, which will have a huge, diverse cast, and will most likely dominate the box office.  And that’s just in the first half of the year.

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Later in the year we get films like The Equalizer 2, starring Denzel Washington, Nasty Women (the remake of Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels), starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson, Creed 2, starring Michael B. Jordan, and even the animated Spider-Man film, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, starring Shameik Moore as Miles Morales. 

This is a huge step for Hollywood and a much needed systematic change, and hopefully it will continue to be a successful trend for years to come, bringing us fantastic films full of diverse characters. 

What films are you looking forward to this year?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments. 

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