Movies That Pass the Bechdel Test Make More Money, Says a New Study

Well, well, well.

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Lucasfilm/Bad Robot/Walt Disney Studios/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Though a quick perusal of the Best Director categories of both the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards might make it seem like women in Hollywood got Leftovers’d, on Tuesday there was uncharacteristically good news for ladies in the ‘biz: A new study found that movies starring women make more money than movies led by men.

I know what you’re thinking: That can’t be true! Who could have foreseen that 51 percent of the population, the group with control over $20 trillion in spending power internationally, would want to see themselves represented on-screen and pay money to do so? Don’t they want to pay $18 for dude-centric superhero installments that don’t make sense unless you saw the other 18 movies in the franchise and idiotic remakes of 1980s TV shows like normal people?!

Well, the numbers don’t lie: According to the Creative Arts Agency and strategy group shift7, movies with female leads outperformed those with male leads between the years 2014 and 2017. And that’s not all: Movies that passed the Bechdel Test were even more profitable than movies that failed it.

In case you’re not familiar with Bechdel Test, it was inspired by a comic from Alison Bechdel and defines movies that pass the barest minimum requirement for treating women like people: Are there two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man? Then it passes. That’s it. And yet despite the theoretical ease with which these very minimal requirements might be met, some iconic films flunk the test—among them the entire original Star Wars trilogy, The Lion King, and Forrest Gump.

But in the three years the study examined, 11 films passed the $1 billion revenue mark—and all 11 of them passed the Bechdel Test. Some of those movies were Star Wars: The Force Awakens (way to turn it around, Star Wars!), Beauty and the Beast, and Zootopia. So itseems that it’s good for business to treat women like human beings. Who. Would. Have. Thought.

I would celebrate this information more, but I already sort of knew it deep down anyway. Plus, it reminds me of all the ways in which I am so, so tired.

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