By now, it doesn't come as much of a surprise to realize that of all the blockbuster movies released in the last few decades, very few have starred women. Even still, one can't help look at rankings like the highest grossing movies released on Memorial Day weekend and not be outraged all the same; out of the 78 films featured on the list, only a handful star women, and even fewer actually pass the Bechdel Test.
It might seem that movies released on a holiday weekend would be more female-friendly than usual, as even those who believe the "women don't go to movies" argument have to realize that everyone goes to the movies during the holidays. Yet, sadly, Memorial Day films, especially those that do well financially, seem to be just as likely as the ones released during the rest of the year to exclude women from their characters and plotlines.
Still, there have been a few Memorial Day blockbusters that have been the exceptions, movies that, while not necessarily good for women, have at least had the decency to feature them in their casts. From the list's top 50, here are eight female-centric, money-making movies released over Memorial Day Weekend:
Ranking on List: #13
Weekend Box Office: $61,012,130
Good for Women? Decent. Jada Pinkett Smith's Gloria is the only female in the group, but she has just as much personality and plot as the others.
2. Kung Fu Panda 2
Ranking on List: #14
Weekend Box Office: $60,871,175
Good for Women? Surprisingly yes. In addition to Angelina Jolie's Tigress, there's the pretty amazing fact that the movie is the highest grossing film ever directed by a woman.
3. Sex and the City 2
Ranking on List: #24
Weekend Box Office: $36,835,353
Good for Women? In terms of proving that movies starring women could made gads of money, yes. As for actually showing women as three-dimensional, non-cliched characters, however, you'd be better off watching re-runs of the show than spending even a few dollars to rent this anti-feminist disaster from RedBox.
4. Notting Hill
Ranking on List: #24
Weekend Box Office: $27,689,760
Good for Women? As much a generic Julia Roberts rom-com can be. It barely passes the Bechdel test, but overall, it does more good than bad.
5. Alien 3
Ranking on List: #34
Weekend Box Office: $23,141,188
Good for Women? Although it doesn't pass the Bechdel Test, Alien 3 is actually one of the strongest female-led movies on the list. It stars a complex heroine, takes on women-centric social issues, and has plenty of dialogue not related to one's love life or appearance.
Ranking on List: #38
Weekend Box Office: $17,213,137
Good for Women? Yes, although the mediocre script certainly didn't help. Enough received terrible reviews, but the female-centric plot — Jennifer Lopez stars as an abused wife wanting vengeance — was a definite highlight.
7. Raising Helen
Ranking on List: #44
Weekend Box Office: $14,239,252
Good for Women? Very. The film wasn't particularly memorable for its story, but its female-led cast and plethora of conversations about things other than men makes it stand out.
8. Far and Away
Ranking on List: #46
Weekend Box Office: $12,948,940
Good for Women? Mostly, yes; in addition to the empowering dialogue, Nicole Kidman's frizzy hair was a much-needed break from female characters' typical look. Minor, but still. It matters.
Images: Warner Bros.; Dreamworks; Universal; 20th Century Fox; Columbia; Buena Vista