Actresses in ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and ‘Wonder Woman’ drove the highest grossing box office sales in 2017. Expect more of that next year.
Women in Hollywood are taking over the big screen.
Female-led movies with stars like Gal Gadot, Emma Watson and Daisy Ridley drove the highest grossing box office sales in 2017 for the first time in nearly 60 years, The Wrap reports.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” featuring the lightsaber slaying Ridley as Rey, took the No. 1 spot with a whopping $517 million on Sunday. Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” starring Watson as the whimsical female heroine Belle held the top spot before that, and Gal Gadot as the superhero “Wonder Woman” held third place in the film of the summer that raked in $412.5 million.
The last time a trifecta of women-fronted films that swept the box office charts was in 1958, according to data from Box Office Madness and Box Office Mojo. “South Pacific,” the film adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical which starred Mitzi Gaynor as a nurse stationed overseas during World War II took the top spot. Next was “Auntie Mame,” with Rosalind Russell portraying a progressive and independent Manhattan socialite in the 1920s in the second highest grossing film that year, and the adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” with Elizabeth Taylor as the lead Maggie “The Cat” Pollitt rounded out in third place.
The trend of female-led blockbusters is expected to carry over into 2018 with Taraji P. Henson’s action-thriller “Proud Mary,” out this month in which she stars as a hit woman working for an organized crime family in Boston whose life is turned around when she meets a young boy when a professional hit goes wrong. And actresses like Natalie Portman in “Annihilation,” Rosa Salazar in “Alita: Battle Angel,” Alicia Vikander in “Tomb Raider,” and Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling in Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” will make up other wide releases out later this year.
It’s too soon to tell if 2018 will mark another year for highest-grossing films with leading ladies, but industry experts say they might — and that we can expect more quality female-led movies that will appeal to wider audiences.
“It’s a promising thing. There’s much more opportunity for female-driven stories nowadays than there was before,” box office analyst Doug Stone says. “A lot of female heavy films are targeting younger male audiences that respond to superhero-driven movies. If studios are savvy they will try to make films that will appeal to wider audiences.”
Stone adds that Disney in particular has a long tradition of targeting films that have a strong female component, more recently with animated movies like “Moana” and “Zootopia.”
“One of the things about female centric films is they tend to extend a run especially if they’re good. Is it a long term trend? I hope so. There’s still a lot of emphasis on big event films like ‘Star Wars’ types.”
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved