Five of the top ten most-anticipated movies of 2020 — Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow, The Eternals, Mulan, and Birds of Prey — featured female leads and directors. Those five movies were estimated to garner more than $4 billion worldwide. 2020 was supposed to be a groundbreaking year for women in Hollywood. With the outbreak of COVID-19, release dates are being rescheduled, many well into the fall and even 2021 — it’s clear that this isn’t going to be a year for anyone in Hollywood.
A record 10.6% of last year’s top 100-grossing films were directed by women, according to a study by Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. “This is the first time we have seen a shift in hiring practices for female film directors in 13 years,” Smith said, noting that Universal alone had five films in the top 100 with female directors. “Yet there is still much more progress needed to reach parity for women behind the camera.” The percentage of women of color directors, for example, reached only 16.8% in 2019, a dip from 2018’s high of 21.4%. Furthermore, less than 1% of all directors across those 13 years were women of color, and only four directed a top 100 movie in 2019.
2020 was supposed to be better. It was supposed to push off the momentum of 2019, to represent something for women and women of color. Now, films that were going to be released months apart will be battling for the box office merely weeks apart. More significantly, no one knows what life will look like post-pandemic, and that includes movie-going. Will theaters reopen? What will social distancing look like in a theater? Will viewers be willing to sit arm-to-arm? Will people even have the expenses to go to the movies?
Equal Footing is focused on helping women get their foot in the door. With the industry on pause, freelancers and independent filmmakers are essentially unable to do that work at all. We will be sharing stories from these filmmakers and what their work and world is looking like right now. We are here, committed to providing resources and opportunities to those artists. Now, more than ever, we are here — because in this state of seemingly perpetual uncertainty, if one thing is clear, it’s that it is about time for women to get the spotlight.
Follow us on Instagram @equalfooting
Written by Lynn Kim at Equal Footing