Normally, actors don’t want to see their name among the ranks of Forbes‘ annual list of most overpaid actors — because it means that while they’re raking in big bucks, their movies are not. It doesn’t exactly inspire the confidence of job security when a studio is betting on losing money when they hire you.
But as far as actors raking in the big bucks go, we were a little stumped by the fact that there was only one woman included on Forbes‘ top 10 names for this list. Among Adam Sandler, Johnny Depp, Ben Stiller, Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrel, Channing Tatum, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, and Ben Affleck, Sandra Bullock is the 9th and only actress on the list who is considered “overpaid” this year and we’re speculating as to why.
1. Women aren’t leads as often as men
Of course, the feminist in us wants to instantly analyze societal standards. Could it be that women just aren’t offered leads as much as men are in film, thus they aren’t offered as much money because less lead roles are available? According to a March 2014 study from Variety, films with female protagonists represented only 15 percent of the top 100 films of highest-grossing domestic films of 2013. We can’t imagine it has changed that dramatically in 2014.
2. Women are generally paid less than men
The ever-present argument of the wage gape also flickered through our mind. Especially since the Sony hack just revealed that even Jennifer Lawrence is a victim of the gender pay gap. Women can’t be overpaid when they are still not making even close to what their male counterparts are.
3. Studios aren’t willing to take as many risks with women
So they are more likely to hire proven and bankable actresses. This also means that when deciding which films to make, studios look at trends and what will win at the box office. Meaning, they use past examples of what was successful to create future business plans. For example, Marvel has been a huge winner at the box office. A superhero movie is always going to do well. So, Marvel orders more superhero movies. With male leads. Because why fix it if it’s making them money? Luckily, this year we also saw that shift, as Thor became a woman.
4. Women have more popularity so are able to pull in a bigger fan base
Perhaps women tend to draw larger crowds of fans, which means they aren’t as likely to fail at the box office. Just look at the social media numbers. Thirteen out of the 20 most popular Twitter users are women. Three out of the 20 are social media sites themselves (i.e. Twitter, YouTube and Instagram), which means only four out of 20 are men. The ladies are killing it on social media. With a fan base that outweighs men’s, it’s no wonder women can pack a punch at the box office.
Of course, the reality is, unfortunately, more negative than we would like. The availability of female leads and the wage gap have to factor heavily into the results of Forbes‘ list. But, on the bright side, things are changing for women. Thanks to young adult films like The Hunger Games and Divergent, the popularity of female-driven plots is hugely on the rise. Pair that with a growing generation that is more accepting of the different shades of people and there is no doubt 2015 will continue to see a transition that is positive for women in film and across the country.