Female characters only spoke 27% of dialogue in top movies of 2016

Despite being led by a heroine, only 9% of the lines in 'Rogue One' were spoken by women

Female characters only spoke 27% of dialogue in top movies of 2016

Felicity Jones and Diego Luna in 'Rogue One', where her character spoke 78% of all dialogue spoken by female characters [Disney]

In spite of a cinematic year that seemed to be dominated by strong female performances, with Rogue One’s December release still resulting in it becoming the top-grossing film at the US box office, research shows that women are still being marginalised when it comes to dialogue onscreen.

According to data scientist Amber Thomas, who examined the number of words spoken by female characters in the top-10 worldwide highest-grossing movies of 2013, only 27% of the lines were uttered by women.

Thomas analysed the scripts of Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Zootopia, The Jungle Book, The Secret Lives of Pets, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Deadpool, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Suicide Squad, taking account of every speaking character seen on screen.

Disney’s Rogue One fared particularly badly, with only 9% of its dialogue spoken by women, despite Felicity Jones playing the lead character Jyn Erso. Worse still, of that dialogue, 78% of it was spoken by Jones only. The Jungle Book, praised for casting Scarlett Johansson in the traditionally male role of Kaa, saw 10% of its dialogue come from women, with Marvel’s Captain America, also a Disney property, only getting 16%.

When it came to Suicide Squad, despite Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn being perceived as such a hit that DC and Warner Bros are now planning a spin-off film around her, the character only spoke less than half of the words uttered by Will Smith’s Deadshot.

But it wasn’t all bad news for the House of Mouse, as animated films offered the most female-friendly ratios; more than half of the script in Finding Dory going to female characters and 46% of Zootopia’s spoken by female actors.

None of the films in the top 10 had a cast that was made up for 50% speaking parts played by women.

The lack of women is also a problem behind the scenes, with the publication last week of the 2016 Celluloid Ceiling report. The annual study examines the roles taken on by women in direction, writing, editing, cinematography, and producing.

The study revealed a fall in the number of directors based on previous years, as well the fact that 175 of the top 500 films of 2016 had hired no women to fill any of the major behind the scenes roles at all.

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