SPFBO2017 - The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off
'The Tingler' (1959)

Middle Earth Has Fewer Women Than Space


This research is from April 2016. The folks at The Pudding analysed thousands of screenplays and did a word count of male and female dialogue.

Unsurprisingly: Hollywood skews heavily in favour of dudes talking.

 Naturally, I looked for all the nerdiest films I could find. This was a lot of fun, although the results were... pretty bleak.
Film % Female
Exodus: Gods & Kings 2%
Predator 4% 
The Two Towers 4% 
Return of the King 4% 
2001: A Space Odyssey 4%
The Fifth Element 5% 
Star Wars 6% 
Return of the Jedi 7% 
Army of Darkness 7% 
Rocky 7%
Tron 8% 
The Dark Knight 10% 
The 300 10%
Captain America 11% 
Empire Strikes Back 11% 
The Princess Bride 11%
Batman Begins 12% 
Avengers 13%
Fellowship of the Ring 14%
The Dark Knight Rises 15% 
Batman Returns 16% 
The Legos Movie 16%
Batman Forever 17% 
Green Lantern 17% 
Inception 18% 
The Matrix 19% 
Pulp Fiction 24%
Blade 25% 
Spider-Man 2 25% 
Watchmen 26%
The Mummy 26% 
The Force Awakens 28% 
28 Days Later 28% 
Serenity 28%
Batman 30% 
Constantine 30%
Batman and Robin 31%
Alien 33%
Pitch Black 33%
The Cabin in the Woods 38%
V For Vendetta 42%
Aliens 47%
Kill Bill 50%
Nightmare on Elm Street 59%
Catwoman 68% (the highest % of any action movie they found)
Jennifer's Body 75%
Ginger Snaps 82%


I guess it is lingering fan-loyalty, but I expected better from the films of Joss Whedon: Serenity (28%), Cabin in the Woods (38%) and Avengers (13%). Serenity and Cabin have major female characters - they just don't have the lines. Cabin is particularly disappointing as the horror genre is, surprisingly, less skewed (relatively) than many others, and given this was a knowing deconstruction... And of course, Avengers, which at 13% is only marginally more gender balanced than Zack Snyder's sweaty historical locker room drama, 300 (10%). 

Alien (33%) and Aliens (47%). To me, this was proof of the whole "if women speak as much, people think they're talking more" theory. Ripley doesn't even have the most lines in Alien. Who knew?! Ripley does, however, have the most dialogue in Aliens. She's joined by Evie (The Mummy) as one of the few female characters that captures the 'lead dialogue' role in an action movie.

For a movie that triggered a generation of MRA fanboys, The Force Awakens (28%) still has less female dialogue than, say, Pitch Black. Or Batman.

2001 is literally a film about two dudes floating in space, and it has a higher percentage of female dialogue than two of the Lord of the Rings films. 

I've included Jennifer's Body and Ginger Snaps because a) I quite like them and b) they are movies explicitly about women and female relationships. Yet the dude% in those (25% and 18%) is infinitely higher than the female % in movies in movies explicitly about man stuff. (See, I dunno, Predator. Rocky. The Legos Movie.) Even when deliberately relegated to background and context, Hollywood still gives men more space than their female equivalent.

You can search for more films here, as well as review the research and source code.