What do Beauty and the Beast, Wonder Woman and Star Wars: The Last Jedi have in common? All three movies topped North America’s box office, and, for the first time since 1958, all three feature female actors in lead roles.
Beauty and the Beast, a live-action musical remake of the 1991 animated film, came out in March 2017. The leading character, Belle, was played by actress Emma Watson, who is known for her relentless activism and strong feminist views. The popular film opened to $170 million in North America and $350 million globally. At the time of it’s initial release, the film broke quite a few box office records, including biggest debut of all time for a female-fueled film.
Wonder Woman, staring actress Gal Gadot as the title character, is one of DC’s highest-grossing films and is the highest-grossing, live-action movie that was directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins. Jenkins also made her mark with this film as the first woman to ever direct a big-budget superhero movie and the second woman to ever single-handedly direct any Hollywood live-action movie with a production budget over $100 million.
The Last Jedi, to no one’s surprise, dominated the box office. The film had the second largest opening weekend of all time, following only its predecessor The Force Awakens. The Last Jedi has been praised for its inclusion of more leading female characters than ever featured in a Star Wars movie, such as General Leia, Rose Tico, Vice Admiral Holdo, Captain Phasma, Maz Kanata and, of course, Rey. Played by actress Daisy Ridley, Rey only becomes more compelling and influential in the latest film, bringing another much needed passionate and strong female character to screen.
Belle, Wonder Woman and Rey are all characters whom young girls everywhere are influenced by. The fact that the movies these female characters were featured in are 2017’s highest-grossing films just shows that audiences want, need and appreciate strong leading female characters. Supporting these movies, along with any other minority-led production, is the best way to show that these are the types of movies that audiences want made.