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Margot Robbie plays the main character in “Barbie”: 2023 rather the exception

Photo: Jaap Buitendijk / Warner Bros. Entertainment

Since 2007, a research group at the University of Southern California has been studying gender inequality in popular films. For 2023, the "USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative" found in its annual report that Hollywood continues to invest primarily in male-dominated films - even if the most successful film of the year, "Barbie", stars a woman, Margot Robbie.

Apparently, feminist comedy was the exception to the rule: of the 100 most successful films of the year, according to the analysis, only 30 had a female lead or co-lead. This is the lowest value in a decade. An identical value was registered in 2010. Last year there were 44 films, the highest number since the evaluations began.

Because of “Year of Women”

“This is a catastrophic step backwards for girls and women in film,” said the founder of the Annenberg Initiative, Stacy L. Smith. “Over the past 14 years we have described the progress in the industry.” That's why this turnaround is so amazing. It is in clear contradiction "to all the talk about 2023 as the 'Year of Women'."

The numbers don't just indicate how strongly girls and women are represented as protagonists. They also specifically showed the career opportunities for actresses in the film industry. The strike-related postponement of some films until 2024 is not enough to explain the decline: it is “a failure of the industry.”

Only three films have protagonists who are older than 45, the initiative noted in its report: "Cocaine Bear" (Keri Russell), "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3" (Nia Vardalos) and "Magic Mike's Last Dance" ( Salma Hayek). In contrast, 32 men in this age group were protagonists.

According to the study, 14 of the 100 films were about

women of color

, up from 18 in 2022. In total, there were 37 main characters from ethnic minorities in 2023, an increase compared to the 31 films from the previous year.