How 'Star Wars' director J.J. Abrams sees greater role for women in saga

Abrams singled out mothers and their daughters in his hopes for who would go see his upcoming 'Star Wars' film. While the perception lingers that science fiction and fantasy are men-only zones, female moviegoers are making up a big part of the audiences for these films.

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' stars Daisy Ridley.

Through all the previews, female character Rey (Daisy Ridley) has been at the center of the action along with male characters in the movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Now “Star Wars” director J.J. Abrams has reached out directly to female fans while discussing the upcoming film.

“I was really hoping this could be a movie that mothers could take their daughters to as well,” Abrams said in a recent interview. 

Abrams’ comments represent a reaching-out to female moviegoers and an effort to include everyone.

Many remember original “Star Wars” character Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and her take-charge attitude. But apart from minor characters, Leia is often the only female character involved in the story. 

Actresses Gwendoline Christie and Lupita Nyong’o star alongside Ridley in this new movie. Christie stars as the possibly evil Captain Phasma, while Nyong’o portrays pirate Maz Kanata through motion capture. 

As noted by Abrams himself, the traditional thinking is that “Star Wars,” comic books, and science fiction or fantasy in general has been the domain of men. “’Star Wars’… was always a boy’s thing and a movie that dads could take their sons to,” he said when making his hopeful comments about mothers and their daughters attending the film.

Abrams’s comments will no doubt be appreciated by many fans, male and female. While this perception that fantasy or science fiction is a boys’ game continues in some circles, the numbers haven’t borne this out for some time. For “Star Wars” itself, the opening weekend audience for the previous new “Star Wars” film, “Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith,” was 58 percent male, just a bit over half. 

For the opening weekend of the latest Marvel Comics movie, “Ant-Man,” the numbers were in fact the same, with 58 percent of the audience counted as male. The latest movie set in the “Lord of the Rings” universe attracted moviegoers in its opening weekend that were 60 percent male.

Sci-fi and fantasy fans will no doubt appreciate Abrams’ comments as acknowledging a reality that already exists: many moviegoers are going to see these stories, not just the demographic often called “fanboys.”

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