2018 Celluloid Ceiling Report: Women Account for 8% of Directors

Kay Cannon on the set of Blockers. (Quantrell D. Colbert/Universal)

According to the 2018 Celluloid Ceiling Report, only 8% of women accounted for directors among the top 250 grossing films.

The 21st annual study was sponsored by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at the San Diego State University.  The findings by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen are not a surprise if you’ve been following the representation of women in film.  Overall, there was some improvement with a 2% increase in overall areas according to the report.  The numbers unfortunately get worse upon breaking things down further.  Among the most dismal numbers were directors and cinematographers.  Women only accounted for 8% of the top grossing directors in 2018.  To give you an idea of how bad this is, women accounted for 11% just one year earlier.  Worst of all, it’s even lower than the 9% reported in 1998.

Lauzen’s study examines the amount of women working in film as writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers.  This year, women accounted for 20% overall, an increase of 2% from last year.  Only 1% of films released last year featured ten or more women in those roles compared to the 74% that employed 10 or more men.

The total breakdown is as follows:

  • Directors: 8% (-3)
  • Writers: 16% (+5)
  • Executive Producers: 21% (+2)
  • Producers: 26% (+1)
  • Editors: 21% (+5)
  • Cinematographers: 4% (0)
  • Composers 6% (+3)
  • Sound designers: 6% (+1)
  • Supervising sound editors: 10% (+2)

Using the box office numbers reported by Box Office Mojo, the highest grossing film directed by a woman in 2018 was A Wrinkle in Time.  The Ava Duvernay-directed film barely cracked $100 million domestically before taking in another $32 million worldwide.  As of today, the film ranks 31st at the domestic box office.  Another studio film, Blockers, just barely cracked the top 50 grossing films.  The sex comedy served as Kay Cannon’s feature directorial debut when it premiered last year during SXSW.  As of now, it’s ranked 46th at the domestic box office with just over $60 million.  The film took in another $33 million worldwide.  Unless I’m missing a film, they are the only two women to direct one of the top 50 grossing films in the last year.

While there’s still a lot of progress left to be done, we’ll see how the studios respond to this report.  Will they hire more women to direct films in development?  Will women have the chance to direct a studio film or will they have to go the indie route to get their films made?  As things currently stand, it’s going to be some time before we have compete gender parity in Hollywood.

The 2018 Celluloid Ceiling Report can be found here.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.