Women only spoke '27 per cent of dialogue' in 2016's biggest movies

Data shows that none of the top 10 highest-grossing films this year included a cast made up of 50% female speaking parts or more

Clarisse Loughrey
Tuesday 17 January 2017 09:25 GMT

2016 may have ended with a woman at its forefront, specifically Rogue One's Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), but statistics have proven individual advances have had little effect on the overall position of women onscreen last year.

Indeed, even Rogue One is notable in the fact that Jyn Erso is the only woman featured in the main cast (come on, Mon Mothma doesn't count); leading data scientist Amber Thomas to look at the level of gender equality across the top 10 worldwide highest-grossing films of the year.

Taking calculations from Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Zootopia, The Jungle Book, The Secret Life of Pets, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Rogue One, Deadpool, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Suicide Squad; Thomas looked at the percentage of dialogue spoken by women within those films.

And the result was, perhaps predictably, disappointing: including every speaking character featured within the list of films, only 27% of the dialogue was given to women. In fact, Rogue One actually represented the worst ratio of all ten films: only 9% of its speaking characters were female, with Jyn taking up 78% of their dialogue.

The only films which featured over/close to an equal split in dialogue were animated films Finding Dory and Zootopia, with 53% and 46% lines given to female characters respectively; which were also the only two films in which a female character spoke the highest percentage of dialogue. None of the films, however, featured a cast that was made up of 50% speaking, female parts.

The Jungle Book only saw 10% of its dialogue spoken by a female character, despite Scarlett Johansson being cast as the voice of the historically-male snake, Kaa; with Captain America seeing women only contributing to 16% of the dialogue. Even though many would think Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) was the centre of Suicide Squad; in reality, she only spoke 42% as many words as Will Smith's Deadshot.

It's hard to say whether 2017 will bring any improvement on this front; though Star Wars: Episode VIII and Wonder Woman will see two major female fronted-films hitting the big screen, it's uncertain how much impact they will make on the overall cinematic landscape.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in