How Women Can Save The World By Telling Epic Stories In The Movies

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25 weekend. “Normally, it’s that time of year you go to haunted houses and then catch a horror flick at the theater,” director Micheal Tiddes says during a production break of his horror comedy A Haunted House 2. “But it’s just a really quiet year this October for horror movies. It’s kind of a bummer.” The month still features a large number of limited releases and video-on-demand horror films, such as Nothing Left to Fear (co-produced by former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash) opening Friday, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (Oct. 11) and Haunter (Oct. 18), with Abigail Breslin. There’s even a spider invasion film starring Greg Grunberg as a hero exterminator called Big Ass Spider! (Oct. 18). TRAILERS: Coming soon to theaters “But if you’re in a small town, the multiplexes don’t show these limited-run movies. So you’re stuck at home watching them on VOD,” says Ryan Turek, the managing editor of horror film website ShockTillYouDrop.com.

And what if women’s epic movies could change the world — by providing the uniting narratives that can overcome the division and fragmentation of our civilization today? This past week I had the pleasure of speaking on this subject at Social Media Week LA’s “Power Women in Entertainment” panel . (You can see the full video from the event below.) We had a bright and enthusiastic audience, and as often at such events, the recurring question came up: how do we correct the ongoing imbalance in women’s representation in media and entertainment? We all know the dismaying numbers: Only 5 percent of the top 100 studio films are directed by women, 4.2 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women, 3 percent of all tech companies are started by women (and yet they are 35 percent more profitable than those started by men), 27 percent of top media management jobs are held by women, and only 27 percent of on-screen movie roles are played by women (a number not changed substantially since the 1920s!). I suggested to the audience that the best way we as women could overcome these inequities was by focusing on the excellence of our work — and by taking on big stories and using digital technology to deliver big results. My co-panelists Rachael McLean of JuntoBox Films (an innovative film company co-founded by Forest Whitaker), Sarah Penna of Big Frame, and Jesse Draper of Valley Girl outlined how they were working toward these goals. We agreed that we needed many more women entrepreneurs and entertainment creators to make these efforts stick. In the film world, this means insisting that women be given the opportunity to write, direct, and act in the major movie properties that have the potential to achieve the greatest box office success. The excuse that Hollywood executives give that women-led movies don’t make good business sense is pure nonsense. Research studies show that the chief determinant in the box office success of a movie is not the gender of the director or lead actor — but the size of the budget and the breadth of the film’s release. Therefore, when a woman is given a significant budget and a tent-pole property to direct, she has as great a chance of success as a man given a similar-level project. Examples of such profitable female-directed tent-pole movies include Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight ($392 million worldwide box office, launched a $3.34 billion franchise); Jennifer Yuh Nelson’s Kung Fu Panda 2 ($665 million worldwide); and Phyllida Lloyd’s’s Mamma Mia!