This article appeared in the December 18, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Scarlett Johansson or Chris Hemsworth?

Victoria Will/Invision/AP/File
Scarlett Johansson poses for a portrait in New York. Female-led movies dominated the box office from 2014 to 2017, a recent study found.
David Clark Scott
Audience Engagement Editor

Here’s a quick quiz. If you were a Hollywood exec, who would you choose to star in your next film: Scarlett Johansson or Chris Hemsworth?

If you answered Ms. Johansson, you’d likely make an extra $70 million. A recent study found that female-led movies dominated the box office from 2014 to 2017. Out of 350 films, fewer than one-third were female-led. Yet, in big- or small-budget movies, films starring women, on average, sold more movie tickets.

Why haven’t more female-led films been greenlighted? “A lot of times in our business there is a lot of bias disguising itself as knowledge,” Christy Haubegger, who worked on the study, told The New York Times.

That bias was exposed in an email exchange in 2014 between Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter and Sony CEO Michael Lynton under the subject line “Female Movie” – where Mr. Perlmutter listed three female-led superhero movies that flopped.  

But the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data,’ as is noted in today’s podcast episode of Perception Gaps (more below).

The past three years suggest that by failing to be more gender or ethnically diverse film industry execs are hurting profits. But we’ll leave you with one sign of gender-equity progress: Ms. Johansson will reportedly bank $15 million to star in Marvel’s upcoming film “Black Widow.” That’s the same salary Chris Evans (Captain America) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) were each recently paid for their starring roles as Avengers.

Now to our five selected stories, including an interview with a rising star in Congress, drone deliveries in Africa, and what Mary Poppins might teach us about balancing tradition with modernity.  

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This article appeared in the December 18, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 12/18 edition