Gower Street’s Senior Box Office Analyst Delphine Lievens appeared on this week’s ‘Girls On Film’ podcast, released December 18, to take a look back at the box office trends of 2020.
The ‘Girls On Film’ podcast is hosted by film critic and broadcaster Anna Smith. The latest episode teamed with charity Birds Eye View to present a female-focused film review of 2020, including a rundown of the female-directed films release this year.
Introducing the podcast, Anna Smith noted that “despite the knock backs the industry has faced this year, the volume of female-directed films has reached new heights.”
Appearing on the podcast alongside producer and Birds Eye View’s Director At Large Mia Bays, and Glasgow Film CEO Allison Gardner, Delphine suggested the trends showed “audiences are kind of willing to be a bit more experimental. They were smaller as well, but we’re seeing a really interesting spread of films.”
Delphine revealed that her research had shown that 31% of the horror films released this year, including four of the top 10, were directed by women. “There’s definitely something to be said about genre filmaking being more willing to take perceived risks; being more modern and looking to diversify,” said Delphine. “I think everything has changed as a result of this year and it’s proved that non-studio titles can do really well.”
She used the example of Rose Glass’ celebrated critical and box office hit SAINT MAUD, pointing out that “a British horror making nearly a million at the box office would be good in a non-pandemic time, so, considering everything that is going on, it’s a really strong result.”
Delphine also said that the success of Sofia Coppola’s ON THE ROCKS, which released in UK cinemas just a few weeks before launching on Apple TV+, had “quite obviously proven that a short-run in theatrical before going on to a streaming service isn’t harmful, it can do quite well.”
Also looking back at 2020, Mia Bays said there had been “opportunities as well as obvious obstacles and threats because of the pandemic.” “One of the opportunities is that smaller films have found more space because all the big movies have been pulled, from the theatrical release schedules particularly, and the smaller-budgeted films/independent films are disproportionately more likely to be written by women/directed by women. So, therefore there have been opportunities. Where the big films have been pulled, more films by women particularly have stepped into the breach.”
Mia revealed that 25% of all UK cinema releases in 2020 were made by women, up 5% year-on-year. “October this year recorded an historic high, with 38% of all films released both theatrically and online were by women, we’ve never had that,” she added.
Allison Gardner said “The interesting thing is that independent cinemas have really risen to the challenge. The independent sector really has championed the way. It feels really safe, innovative, challenging in terms of its programme.” She added her concern was “that cinema doesn’t feel obliged to start putting on lots of mainstream stuff”, saying that it was it was really important that “we continue to take chances, we continue to champion filmmakers from all sorts of different backgrounds, and we don’t fall back into the old trap.”
She predicted that the “very challenging year” for cinemas might lead to as much as a third of cinemas in the UK being closed by the time the current situation could return to “some semblance of normality”.
“We’re seeing some really interesting trends coming out of this year,” said Delphine. “The hope really is that people who acquire films will be willing to acquire a bit more of a range of content, more willing to acquire and release films by women, and hopefully cinemas will be more open to playing this content as well. There’s kind of no going back from the situation we’re in now. There a lot of discussion going on about how long the space between theatrical release and home entertainment is. There’s a lot of conversation about the value of a blockbuster and what makes a blockbuster. I think this year has accelerated a lot of conversations that were already being had and brought a lot of issues to the forefront.”
These and other topics were discussed. You can listen to the entire podcast here.