There has been a lot of discussion about Hollywood’s pay gap over the past year. From Patricia Arquette’s headline-making Oscar speech to the impassioned essay Jennifer Lawrence penned earlier this month.
Yet, a new analysis has found that, despite the fact male actors generally take home fatter pay checks, it’s films centred around women that are bringing in the big bucks for the productions houses.
Mic looked at the box office results of the top 25 grossing films between 2006 and 2015, and compared the earnings of films about women with those of films about men.
They found that films based around men grossed an average of $80.6 million ($114 million Australian dollars), while films that focused on women raked in an average of $126.1 million ($177 million).
That means “stories where the central narrative thrust is built around a woman” earn on average $45.5 million ($64 million) more at the box office than those about men.
The top-grossing female-led films of the past decade have included The Hunger Games, Alice in Wonderland, Bridesmaids, Pitch Perfect and Spy.
The analysis did not include films with co-ed ensemble casts, like Les Miserables, films that feature both genders roughly equally (Fifty Shades of Grey), animated films or films about non-human objects (Transformers).
Despite this finding, which contradicts the conventional wisdom about women-led films, female characters still make up less than a third of all speaking characters in films.
As Mic writer Kevin O’Keeffe points out, “That’s not just poor representation, it’s also bad business.”