patricia johnson

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The 9 women Who Directed Wide Releases in 2015

Lana Wachowski (with her brother Andy) & Lilly Wachowski - Jupiter Ascending
Sam Taylor-Johnson - 50 Shades of Grey
Niki Caro - McFarland, USA 
Anne Fletcher - Hot Pursuit 
Elizabeth Banks - Pitch Perfect 2
Nancy Meyers - The Intern 
Patricia Riggen - The 33 
Jessie Nelson - Love the Coopers 

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November 13, 2015:  Box Office History for Female Directors

This weekend two films (Patricia Riggen’s The 33 and Jessie Nelson’s Love the Coopers) open wide, each commanding over 2000 theatres across Canada and the U.S. This is something that shouldn’t matter, something that happens every weekend. What makes this weekend significant is that it’s the first time two movies directed by women have opened wide the same weekend. 

These are also sadly the last films directed by women scheduled for wide release in 2015. Unless Suffragette (directed by Sarah Gavron), Miss You Already (directed by Catherine Hardwicke) or By the Sea (directed by actress-turned-director Angelina Jolie) gain huge momentum this is it for 2015.

It now looks like 8 films directed by women will be given a wide release in 2015 when all is said and done. The other 6 are: Jupiter Ascending (Andy & Lana Wachowski), 50 Shades of Grey (Sam Taylor-Johnson), McFarland, USA (Niki Caro), Hot Pursuit (Anne Fletcher), Pitch Perfect 2 (Elizabeth Banks), The Intern (Nancy Meyers).

When you consider that all combined studios release an average of around 130 films in over 1000 theatres the number 8 is a tragically pitiful figure. When you consider that for the last decade the number of films directed by women per year given a wide release is between 3-5 (last year was 4) this number is hopeful. 

There are more reasons to be optimistic. Since ACLU announced they were looking into suing studios for widespread sexism the studios seem more willing to hire women which means that there are already 8 films directed by women in production or post-production for 2016.

It’s important to remember that despite these historic gains women of colour are still left far behind. This year only 1 woc (Patricia Riggen) directed a mainstream release. There simply needs to be more. 

As consumers there’s unfortunately very little we can do to try and rectify the situation. But for this weekend at least we can go to the cinema, have some popcorn and enjoy the all too rare experience of watching a film on the big screen that was directed by a woman.