Universal, MGM Studios Accept 4 Percent Challenge to Hire Women Directors

Donna Langley - 2016 CinemaCon - Getty - H 2017
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The challenge calls for industry groups to each commit to hiring one female director in the next 18 months.

Universal Pictures and MGM have become the first of Hollywood studios to accept the "4 percent challenge" issued by Time's Up and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, calling on industry leaders to commit to announcing one project with a female director in the next 18 months.

In a tweet issued today, Universal’s president of production, Peter Cramer, along with Peter Kujawski, chairman of the studio’s specialty label Focus Features, and Margie Cohn, president of DreamWorks Animation, said they “proudly join colleagues throughout the industry in accepting the #TimesUp #4PercentChallenge.”

In response, Times Up, which officially issued the challenge last week at Sundance, said in a statement, “Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, led by Donna Langley, just became the first major studio to sign on to the #4PercentChallenge. … We hope their commitment inspires more content producers to make the pledge and work with female directors. Not only have a handful of the studio’s first-look filmmakers already announced their commitment to the 4% challenge, many have already demonstrated their support to work with more female directors on an ongoing basis, and the studio will continue to support their efforts.”

As part of the TIMESUPx2 campaign to double the number of women in leadership positions, Tessa Thompson officially inaugurated the challenge during a keynote address at Sundance on Jan. 25. Regina King had earlier become the first to take up the challenge during her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. 

Nina Jacobson, Paul Feig, Amy Schumer, Angela Robinson and Franklin Leonard all joined in during a panel discussion at Sundance, and others who have since lent their support include Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Constance Wu, Janet Mock, Kerry Washington, Reese Witherspoon, J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot, and Jordan Peele, among others.

MGM tweeted their support for Thompson Friday and revealed their intent to join the challenge as well. In response, Time's Up praised MGM, tweeting that it was "great news" to hear. 

The challenge takes its name from a 2017 study conducted by the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism that found that only 4 percent of the directors of the decade's thousand highest-grossing films were women.

Feb. 1, 5:53 p.m. Updated with additional details about MGM joining the challenge.