High-Grossing Movies Still Feature Mostly Men, Study Finds

PHOTO: Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen, right, and Liam Hemsworth portrays Gale Hawthorne in a scene from "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1."PlayMurray Close/Lionsgate/AP Photo
WATCH Hollywood Women Say Men Should 'Have It All'

Less than a third of speaking roles in the top-grossing films feature women, according to a new study.

Researchers studied the 700 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2014 for a study called "Inequality in 700 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Character Gender, Race and LGBT Status" through The University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

"The landscape of popular cinema in 2014 remains skewed and stereotypical," the researchers, including USC communication professor Stacy Smith, noted, adding that "film characters are overwhelmingly white and male, despite both population statistics and viewing patterns."  

Films like the blockbuster "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1," which was released last November starring female action lead Jennifer Lawrence, are rarities.

Only 30.2 percent of the 30,835 speaking characters analyzed in the study were female, the researchers found. Among last year's top 100 money-making films, only 21 movies featured a female lead or co-lead.

The study stated that was the same percentage, 20 percent, in 2007. But it was a decrease from the 2013 sample, which showed 28 percent. The figure is even smaller in action films. Only 21.8 percent of speaking characters in action/adventure films last year were played by women.

The top-grossing films were rated by domestic earnings from Box Office Mojo.

The researchers also noted a trend about the age of female leads that many women in Hollywood may find not-so-surprising. Of the films studied last year, no actresses over 45 had a lead or co-lead role, and only three of the actresses in lead or co-lead roles were from underrepresented racial or ethnic backgrounds.

Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, 37, told "The Wrap" in May that she was told she was too old to play a 55-Year-old's girlfriend in one role.

The lack of diversity appears even more stark when it comes to ethnicity. Of speaking characters in the top 100 films last year, 73.1 percent were white.

The researchers noted the breakdown of the other characters:

12.5 percent were Black

5.3 percent were Asian

4.9 percent were Hispanic/Latino

2.9 percent were Middle Eastern

1.2 percent were from "other" groupings

<1 percent were American Indian/Alaskan Native or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander