Speed Reads

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2016's films had more female protagonists than ever before

Women played the leading role in a record 29 percent of the top-grossing films of 2016, a study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film revealed. That marks a 7 percent increase from 2015 and the highest percentage ever since the study started in 2002, thanks to last year's female-fronted films including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Ghostbusters, Hidden Figures, and Arrival. "While audiences were still more than twice as likely to see male characters as female characters in top grossing movies, females fared better as protagonists and major characters in 2016," Martha Lauzen, executive director of the center, said in a statement.

Progress wasn't made across the board though. While more women took the spotlight than ever before, the overall number of female speaking roles dropped by 1 percentage point. The percentage of Asian female characters doubled and the percentage of black women increased slightly, but the percentage of Latina characters in films dropped from 4 percent to 3 percent.

That's why, while some of the numbers may appear promising, the center isn't getting its hopes up just yet. "It is possible that this is something of a quirk that we will not see repeated in the future,” Lauzen said. "It is also possible that introducing female protagonists is somehow an easier, less threatening fix than hiring women directors and writers."