Less than one percent of movies on Disney+ are directed by women

Magical and larger than life, Elsa is the perfect mythic character—but she can’t help but wonder why she was born with powers. What truths about the past await Elsa as she ventures into the unknown to the enchanted forests and dark seas beyond Arendelle? Featuring Idina Menzel as the voice of Elsa, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen 2” opens on Nov. 22, 2019. © 2019 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The wonderful world of Disney isn’t so wonderful for female directors. Streaming service Disney+ will launch Nov. 12. Users can stream hundreds of Disney titles dating back to 1940, including new original content, for $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year. 

Of the more than 500 films that will be featured on Disney+, only 36 are directed by women. Of those, 10 are co-directed with men, including Captain Marvel (2019) from co-director Anna Boden. 

Only 11 were released theatrically, including Queen of Katwe (2016) and recent National Geographic documentaries Science Fair (2018) and Free Solo (2018) – both of which were co-directed with men. The remaining 25 films were broadcast as Disney Channel original movies, part of ABC’s primetime “Wonderful World of Disney” specials, or released straight to video. Several are straight-to-video sequels like Tarzan & Jane and Mulan 2. 

Between 1940 and 1998, none of Disney’s feature films were directed by women. Nancy Meyers’ The Parent Trap (1998) is the first theatrically-released Disney film directed by a woman. 

Disney+ will feature all films from Pixar, an animation studio that has infamously never hired a female director for its 21 releases. Brenda Chapman does have a co-director credit on Brave (2012), but it came with complications the animator laid out in the 2018 documentary Half the Picture.

Several of Pixar’s beautifully-animated offerings were written or co-written by women, including Cars 3, The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, Big Hero 6. Many Disney+ titles are from female writers, including classics like Pocahontas and Mulan. 

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil screenwriter Linda Woolverton’s The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast have been updated to live-action versions in recent years, all directed by men. Other films from female screenwriters include Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, romantic comedies like While You Were Sleeping and 10 Things I Hate About You and live-action favorites like Saving Mr. Banks and DCOMs The Lizzie McGuire Movie and The Even Stevens Movie.

Lupita Nyong’o in Queen of Katwe

The following list strictly focuses on female directors of feature films, not television series. Theatrical releases are in bold, while co-directors are noted with an asterisk. All titles were acquired and researched via the official Disney+ Twitter thread announcing streaming titles Oct. 14.

Ruby Bridges (1998) – Euzhan Palcy

Belle’s Magical World (1998) – Barbara Dourmaskin-Case*

The Parent Trap (1998) – Nancy Meyers

I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1998) – Arlene Sanford

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999) – Jun Falkenstein*

The Tigger Movie (2000) – Jun Falkenstein

Rip Girls (2000) – Joyce Chopra 

Recess: All Growed Down (2003) – Brenda Piluso*

Tarzan & Jane (2002) – Lisa Schaffer 

Get a Clue (2002) – Maggie Greenwald

Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge (2001) – Mary Lambert 

Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamp’s Adventure (2001) – Jeannine Rousel*

Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas (2004) – Carole Holiday, Theresa Cullen

Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy (2004) – Edith Becker*

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004) – Sara Sugarman

Mulan 2: The Final War (2004) – Lynne Southerland* 

Go Figure (2005) – Francine McDougall

Herbie Fully Loaded (2005) – Angela Robinson

Once Upon a Mattress (2005) – Kathleen Marshall 

Cow Belles (2006) – Francine McDougall

The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning (2008) – Peggy Holmes

Kingdom of the Blue Whale (2009) – Sue Houghton

Princess Protection Program (2009) – Allison Liddi-Brown

Bizarre Dinosaurs (2009) – Jenny Kubo

Lemonade Mouth (2011) – Patricia Riggen

Good Luck Charlie, It’s Christmas (2011) – Arlene Sanford

Frenemies (2012) – Daisy von Scherler Mayer

Brave (2012) – Brenda Chapman* 

Secret of the Wings (2012) – Peggy Holmes

Winged Seduction: Birds of Paradise (2012) – Molly Hermann

Frozen (2013) – Jennifer Lee*

Queen of Katwe (2016) – Mira Nair

Science Fair (2018) – Cristina Costatini 

Free Solo (2018) – Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi*

Captain Marvel  (2019) – Anna Boden*

© Georgiana E. Presecky (11/4/2019) FF2 Media

Frozen is one of only three animated Disney films with a female director

Photos Courtesy of Disney

Featured photo: Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap.

Tags: Disney

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