Hollywood's version of Halley's Comet comes around this weekend, when three movies directed by women land in theaters.
Considering the industry's abysmal track record with female directors, this is cause for celebration. It's also cause for reflection, considering that it hasn't happened in recent memory (and that having three movies directed by men happens ... pretty much every weekend).
Patricia Riggen helms this biopic based on the Chilean mine collapse of 2010, when 33 men were trapped underground for 69 harrowing days. Antonio Banderas stars.
The 45-year-old Mexican director, who has a Master's in directing and screenwriting from Columbia University, has three feature films before The 33, including 2007's La Misma Luna, 2010's Revolución and 2012's Girl in Progress starring Eva Mendes and Patricia Arquette.
Love the Coopers:
Jessie Nelson directs this holiday comedy with a stacked cast including Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Ed Helms, Amanda Seyfried, Alan Arkin, Anthony Mackie, Marisa Tomei and Olivia Wilde. Love the Coopers is the story of a reluctant, close-quarters family get-together on Christmas Eve.
Nelson wrote, produced and directed the 2002 film I am Sam, for which Sean Penn was Academy Award-nominated. She also wrote, produced and directed Corrina, Corrina with Whoopi Goldberg and Ray Liotta.
By the Sea:
Angelina Jolie's third directorial effort is a Mr. and Mrs. Smith reunion, but a far different movie. This artsy European drama pairs the Oscar-winner with husband Brad Pitt as a married couple suffering through a holiday on a picturesque seaside French resort.
Funnily enough, this film also marks a very important first for Pitt.
"I’m the first female director that Brad’s ever worked with," Jolie told the New York Times. "That doesn’t seem right when you think about it."
Why three films are major
That Pitt has never been directed by a woman isn't so surprising when you consider the math.
Just last year, only 17 films directed by women landed in the top 250 grossing films. Hiring standards are sufficiently questionable that the American Civil Liberties Union even began investigating discriminatory practices earlier this year.
And it's not like the pace is picking up. Over the latter half of 2015, Hollywood has barely averaged one major film per month directed by a woman.
In October, there was Sarah Gavron's Suffragette. In September, there was The Intern, directed by Nancy Meyers, and Sleeping with Other People, directed by Leslye Headland. August gave us a limited release of Marielle Heller's Diary of Teenage Girl. June delivered two documentaries:Batkid Begins (Dana Nachman) and The Wolfpack (Crystal Moselle), as well as the indie featureInfinitely Polar Bear, by Maya Forbes.
It shouldn't be that easy to quantify, but it is — because those names stand out. Plus, if you look at the top grossing movies of 2015 thus far, only four directed by women land in the top 50 —Pitch Perfect 2 (Elizabeth Banks), Fifty Shades of Grey (Sam Taylor Johnson), The Intern(Meyers) and Selma (Ava DuVernay).
To have three movies in theaters all at once? That's something worth celebrating — all the way to the box office.