Still Not Enough Women Directors in 2023 Amongst Top Movies

Do you ever think about who is directing the movies that you watch? For some, knowing the face behind the camera is a part of the movie-going process. For others, they could care less. Regardless of how much attention you give to it, the filmmakers behind movie magic matter. Diversity behind the camera has an impact on the stories that are told (and how they’re told.) There were fewer women directors in 2023. So, let’s look at the numbers and talk about why it matters!

Women Directors in 2023

Some of the most talked about films of the year were helmed by women. The biggest movie of the year, Barbie, was directed by Greta Gerwig. The film earned over $1.42 billion, making it the highest-grossing women-directed movie. Saltburn came to the big screen thanks to director and writer Emerald Fennell. While it may not have earned as much as Barbie, it still made waves from theatrical and streaming debuts. Another praised film, Priscilla, saw Sofia Coppola bring the story of Priscilla Presley to life on the big screen.

Despite some incredible women-led films, the number of women directors in 2023 who are represented in the most successful films of the year saw a decline. A Celluloid Ceiling study looked at the top 250 most successful films of 2023 and found that only 16% had women directors. This compares to the 18% figure in 2022.

It isn’t just directors who see more men finding success. Statistics were similar across various behind-the-scenes roles. In fact, only 22% of writers, directors, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers from the same top 250 movies were women, with the lowest being cinematographers at 7%.

Saltburn teaser trailer
Image via MGM.

Why Does The Gender Of A Director Matter?

The statistics for women directors are clearly low - and it has been this low, and even lower, since the beginning of filmmaking history. Some folks may ask why it matters. Some of it comes down to wanting more equality in such important positions. Seeing women break glass ceilings in filmmaking is inspiring, exciting, and shows that progress is happening!

But it’s more than just money. Having women behind the scenes completely changes the storytelling potential of films. Simply put, women have different perspectives based on their unique worldviews. This is true of all different faces of diversity, as your perception of the world and your ability to tell truthful stories will depend on your upbringing. It helps us see different tales from new lenses.

Studies have also found that women hire more women. So, if we want to find equality on film sets, hiring women is one of the fastest ways to do it.

Image via A24.

Why Aren’t Women Directing More Films?

The problem is not that there aren’t women directing great movies. Nor is it that there aren’t women directing at all. There are plenty of female directors! Unfortunately, those entering the field have faced numerous hurdles, and it’s taking a long time to change that. Findings have reported that major studios still have sexist hiring practices that prevent them from taking on projects.

It’s also much harder for women to be given the director’s chair on big-budget films. Studies have identified that women often see production budgets that are as much as 25% smaller than when a man directs a similar movie. And when it comes to smaller budget films, they are under-distributed and given a third as many screens. And it’s not just a Hollywood problem. In French cinema, films directed by women receive 21% less when it comes to budgets.

women directors 2024
Image via Paramount Pictures.

What Will 2024 Hold?

2023 has proven yet again that women directors have a great return on investment. Women can smash records just as much as male directors, so why not give them as many chances? Audiences have a lot to look forward to when it comes to women directors in 2024. Mean Girls and Madame Web, both women-directed, premiere early in the year, with more to come!

Readers, what are some of your favorite films from 2023 that had women directors? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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About Meghan

Film & Television & Fanfiction Writer | Mental Health Worker | Cat Mom