Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros.
As the summer of 2018 comes to a close, so does the second most profitable summer in box office history.
Pulling in a massive $4.8 billion in profits, the huge earnings of the 2018 summer box office are a much-needed rebound after a disappointing 2017 summer season. Part of this season’s box office success was due to the wide variety of films released. From dramas to comedies, action-packed spy thrillers to romance flicks, there was something for everyone at the box office this summer. In addition to the variation in genres, this season also saw a substantial increase in diversity among its top-grossing films.
While the headlining names of the season’s biggest films, like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Deadpool 2, and Solo: A Star Wars Story are still predominantly male actors, films with female leads are beginning to reach a similar level of success. Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians, for example, both landed in the top ten highest-grossing films of the summer, earning $139 and $121 million, respectively. These two movies in particular represent the success that films can achieve by reaching audiences that are underrepresented in Hollywood.
Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, and Awkwafina, Ocean’s 8 follows a gang of eccentric female criminals as they plan and carry out a jewelry heist. The film tackles a genre almost exclusively monopolized by men, and its success as an all-female caper flick demonstrates the desire among moviegoers for diversity, and the payoff when filmmakers break the unspoken rules of genre.
Similarly, the groundbreaking diversity of Crazy Rich Asians, based on the novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan, was incredibly well-received by both critics and moviegoers. Starring Constance Wu and Henry Golding, the romantic comedy is the first non-period film to feature a majority Asian American cast since The Joy Luck Club in 1993. By featuring Asian actors and tackling issues like immigration and cultural assimilation, Crazy Rich Asians crafts a story specific to the Asian American experience, and its box office success makes it clear that diversity in Hollywood is here to stay.
While female-led films saw their most successful summer yet, the industry still has a long way to go. Out of the 100 top-grossing films of the season, only 36 featured at least one female lead character. Only thirteen of those 36 featured a lead actress of color, and only two featured queer women. The struggle for representation in Hollywood is ongoing, but this summer has shown that there is a clear momentum for filmmakers to continue to tell diverse narratives.
Carolyn Ford is a Copy Editor at The Rational Creature. They study Journalism, Linguistics, and Gender and Sexuality studies at NYU.