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The Casting Of The ‘Ghostbusters’ Reboot Is A Brilliant Financial Move

The forthcoming “Ghostbusters” reboot, whose main cast was announced Tuesday night, will almost certainly pass “The Bechdel Test,” a basic way to estimate the involvement of, and priority given to, female characters on-screen (barring some crazy reimagining of the original film’s concept). Four women — Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones — will be donning the proton packs.

That may be good news for troubled Sony Pictures, because — as I found last year — a movie that passes the test and integrates women tends to have a better return on investment given its budget and gross:


It’s also not surprising that this win takes place in comedy, where women tend to be better represented — at least in recent years — than in other genres, according to the Media Diversity & Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School.


Most of all, a big-ticket tentpole franchise film helmed entirely by women in a science-fiction comedy is relatively new ground. And it could spur a bump in the rate of films that feature women in meaningful roles — a rate that has unfortunately been relatively stagnant, as the chart at the top of this piece shows.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.