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2021 saw decrease in number of female directors on top Hollywood films

The stats come from San Diego State University in their annual Celluloid Ceiling report

By Will Richards

Chloé Zhao wears black and speaks into a Marvel microphone
'Nomadland' director Chloé Zhao. CREDIT: Marvel Entertainment YoTube channel

The number of female directors working on the biggest-selling Hollywood films decreased in 2021, a new report reveals.

As revealed by San Diego State University in their annual Celluloid Ceiling report, 17 per cent of the highest-grossing Hollywood blockbusters were directed by women, down from 18 per cent in 2020.

In the Top 100 grossing films of the year, meanwhile, the number is down from 2020’s 16 per cent to just 12 last year, while women in production roles are up two per cent from 2020 to 25 per cent in 2021.

Researcher Dr. Martha Lauzen discussed the findings, saying: “Appearances can be deceiving. While Chloé Zhao won the Oscar last year for directing ‘Nomadland’, and Jane Campion is a front-runner in this year’s race for ‘The Power Of The Dog’, the percentage of women directing films actually declined in 2021.

“Basing our perceptions of how women are faring on the well-deserved fortunes of just a few high-profile women can lead us to inaccurate conclusions about the state of women’s employment.”

Elsewhere in the world of cinema, the argument over Marvel’s ubiquity in Hollywood has fired up again in recent months, with Ridley Scott calling superhero movies “boring as shit”.

Following several conversations in recent years that have seen filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Denis Villeneuve dispute the artistic credibility of Marvel films, Scott is the latest cinematic voice to weigh in.

Speaking to Deadline, the Oscar-winning director said: “The best films are driven by the characters, and we’ll come to superheroes after this if you want, because I’ll crush it. I’ll fucking crush it. They’re fucking boring as shit.”

Paul Thomas Anderson, meanwhile, recently said that superhero films will “get people back in cinemas”.

In an interview with The New Yorker, the ‘Licorice Pizza’ director was asked for his thoughts on the current state of the film industry, to which he responded with optimism.

“It seems to be something that’s popular these days to sort of wonder if they’ve ruined movies and all this kind of stuff,” he said of Marvel. “I just don’t feel that way. I mean, look, we’re all nervous about people getting back to the theatre, but you know what’s going to get them back in movie theatres? Spider-Man. So let’s be happy about that.”