Hunger Games, the movie no studio thought could/should be made, is a smash hit. There are three reasons why no studio wanted to touch it:

  1. It had a female protagonist
  2. It was too violent; no way to make it a PG film
  3. It had a female protagonist

But the buzz around Hollywood is that this will finally put the coffin in the outdated trope that young boys, the biggest demographic in the world, will never go see a film with a female protagonist.

Screenwriter Todd Alcott isn’t so sure. As he recounts in this fascinating blog post:

A few years ago, I was involved in developing a movie based on a popular series of YA novels, a science-fiction thriller series set in a dystopian future and featuring a female protagonist trying to make her way in an oppressive, brutal society.

 The studio exec was fascinated and very impressed, and then, at the end of the pitch, said “That’s really great, Todd, you really nailed it, it’s perfect.  I’m just wondering — is there some way to make the protagonist a boy?”

 My guess is that today, this very day, in offices all over Hollywood, studio executives are still telling writers “We don’t make science-fiction movies with a female protagonist.”  And when the writer says “But what about Hunger Games?” they will make an excuse — “Well, but that’s The Hunger Games, it’s a phenomenon, it’s its own thing, you can’t hope to repeat that.”

What do you think? Have things (finally) changed?

Or are we destined for  female characters  used as motivation for their male counterparts?  (I, for one, hope Jennifer Lawerence’s amazing performance has helped obliterate this outdated trope.) But then again…most studio heads don’t even know what the word “trope” means, so….


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About The Author

Michael Rogan
Editor, ScriptBully Magazine

Michael Rogan is a former screenplay reader and optioned screenwriter. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of ScriptBully magazine, and has written a few non-sucky books including "How to Write a Book That Doesn't Suck (and Will Actually Sell)". He has made it his mission to help screenwriters kick ass - and rid the world of films based on action-figure lines.

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