Jamboree: It Was All a Fever Dream
Hollywood ignominy for the week
1. Number of the Week: 79.6
Which is the percent of Hollywood film’s in 2023 directed by white men.
As recently as a couple days ago, I wrote about all the strides Hollywood has made in inclusion in the past few years, and I confess to feeling that the changes were so enormous that we were on a glide path to getting to something in the neighborhood of equity in a few years time. This is after all, the year of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, which is the top domestic grosser of 2023.
So then you read the latest Annenberg Initiative study of directors in Hollywood and spit your coffee out all over your laptop. Not only did we not make great strides in the last year, the level of inclusion has barely budged in the past six years. While I was sitting here assuming things were improving every day.
After a modest leap forward in the teens, and lots of “initiatives” and “mandates”, we more or less stalled out and stopped improving at all, with the situation far from reconciled.
A few more stats from the study:
The percent of directors who are men has gone from a monopoly level of 97.8 percent in 2007, to effective a monopoly level of 88 percent last year. A nine point swing in 18 years. Progress!
Universal hired the most female directors (4). (Any coincidence this studio is overseen by a woman?) Three major studios or divisions (Paramount, Sony, Fox) hired zero. Little Lionsgate hired more (3) than any studio except Uni.
The percent of directors who are white went from 87 percent in 2007 to 77 percent last year. After all the fuss and huffing and puffing, where some argued things were sooo overcorrecting it felt like there was need for backlash, the needle moved all of 10 percent in 18 years.
Warners wins the prize for more underrepresented directors last year (5).
Women of underrepresented demos made up just 1.4 percent percent of Hollywood’s directors last year.
Why did we think that this problem had been solved? My guess is that movies directed by women and people of color get outsized attention still. Barbie certainly gets more attention than say, Shazam, given that it’s not only a breakthrough but a giant smash hit and likely Oscar nominee as well. Many of the films women and people of color get to direct are also in the serious social dramas category, the category the press and critics most like to write about, giving them an outsized footprint.