While the 87th Annual Academy Awards have been much maligned for a lack of nominations for people of color, it appears to be women who were truly underrepresented in movies in 2014. The nominees for best director at the 2015 Oscars are all men and a study by the Los Angeles Times released Sunday found that only 4.6 percent of Hollywood films last year were directed by women.
The study looked at films directed by women at the six major studios and based its data on listings compiled by IMDb and confirmed by the studios, representatives for the LA Times said.
"I don't understand why there aren't more powerful female directors," said Sam Taylor-Johnson, the woman who directed the Valentine’s Day hit, "Fifty Shades of Grey." "I don't have the answers, but I hope that things may start to shift and that studios will employ more women to handle strong and interesting material. Hollywood historically has been a boys club, but hopefully now it's become co-ed."
Taylor-Johnson's film is a recent example of box-office success that women are finding with audiences. "Fifty Shades of Grey" earned $85 million for Universal in its opening weekend, the biggest debut ever for a female director. And she’s not alone. Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken" has grossed more than $115 million since its December release, and Ava DuVernay's "Selma" has racked up nearly $50 million. It’s also nominated for two Oscars, but not for best director.
This year looks to be an improvement for the number of women behind the camera, but not by much, according to analysis from The Week. Lana and Andy Wachowski's "Jupiter Ascending" was released Feb. 6, and Niki Caro's Disney sports drama "McFarland, USA" was released Feb. 20. The two bookended "Fifty Shades." The next two releases from female directors, Anne Fletcher's action comedy "Don't Mess with Texas" and "Pitch Perfect 2," come to the big screen in May. The only two remaining wide releases that are currently scheduled are Thea Sharrock's romance "Me Before You" in August, and Nancy Meyers' "The Intern" in September. That adds up to women directing 6.6 percent of the roughly 113 wide releases scheduled to debut before 2016.
When Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for directing in 2010, her win headlined a year that was a high for women directing at the big six studios during the Times’ analysis period, 2009-14. That year, 8.1 percent of films released were helmed by women.
The Times analysis shows the studio with the highest percentage of films directed by women during the period was Sony Pictures Entertainment, with 8.7 percent of its releases. The findings showed that number was boosted by its specialty division, Sony Pictures Classics, which distributes lower-budget and foreign films. The studio with the lowest percentage of films with female directors was Warner Bros. at 2.3 percent, which the Times noted relies heavily on big-budget superhero and action films, the genres least likely to be helmed by women.
At four other major studios, Universal Pictures had 7.5 percent of its films directed by women, followed by Twentieth Century Fox with 7.1 percent, Walt Disney Studios with 6.1 percent and Paramount Pictures with 4.7 percent.