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Movies With Female Leads Consistently Outperform Movies With Male Leads, Study Finds

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A newly published study shows a major shift in Hollywood. In recent years, movies with female leads have consistently outperformed movies with male leads.

Researchers from Creative Artists Agency and Shift7 studied the 350 highest-grossing films from 2014 to 2017. Of those 350, 105 had female lead roles while 245 were driven by male actors. The study found that -- at all budget levels -- films with female lead roles outperformed their male counterparts.

"This is powerful proof that audiences want to see everyone represented on screen," said Amy Pascal, head of Pascal Pictures and former chairman of Sony Pictures. "Decision-makers in Hollywood need to pay attention to this."

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The 350 movies were split into five categories based on their budget levels: Less than $10 million, $10 to $30 million, $30 to $50 million, $50 to $100 million and over $100 million.

In all five categories, female-led movies outperformed male-led films.

The study also examined films through the lens of the Bechdel Test -- where two female characters have a conversation about something other than a man. The study found that films that passed the test also made more revenue at the box office than films that failed the test.

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Since 2012, all films that made more than $1 billion globally have passed the test. Forty percent of films in the study did not pass the test.

The study defines a "female lead" as a woman being listed first in official press notes. For films with multiple leads, the gender of the first name determined whether it was a male- or female-led film.

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