Strong Female Heroines as Hitmakers

Katniss: the girl is literally on fire at the box office

Following up on last month’s recap of the impressive performance by stories featuring strong female heroines, here’s more evidence that creating powerful women is good for the bottom line. Not that it shouldn’t be reason enough that it’s fair, equitable and the right thing… It hasn’t stopped me from imagining the corporate suits running around shouting for strong female characters.

Here’s a few interesting tidbits I pulled from my blog statistics. Unique visitors were up over 70% from the previous month. Some of that is attributable to the fantastic hits from the exclusive Essential Guide to Warfare image, which features Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin Solo, but also to higher hit counts on blogs featuring discussions on geek girls, Katniss Everdeen, Wonder Woman, Jaina Solo, Padmé Amidala, and other strong female characters. In addition, overall blog hits nearly breached the one million milestone.

While I predicted March was going to be strong, it’s safe to say that the heroines of fiction made an even bigger impression than I could have hoped. Here are some more items of note:

  • Most searched terms bringing people to FANgirl Blog were various combinations of words related to The Hunger Games and Katniss, Sarah Connor from the Terminator franchise, Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse reviews or spoilers, and Asajj Ventress, Mother Talzin, and the Nightsisters from The Clone Wars.
  • Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse held strong on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list, placing at 9th and 16th in its second and third weeks of release.
  • The Hunger Games won the box office for its second weekend with $58.8 million (easily besting the opening weekend for Wrath of the Titans) and its third weekend with $33.5 million (nearly double the opening weekend days for Titanic 3D).
  • The cumulative domestic gross for The Hunger Games is $302.8 million through April 8th. In less than three weeks and with millions more still on the way, The Hunger Games already has bested the domestic gross of all four Twilight movies and six of the eight Harry Potter films.
  • The boxed set of the Hunger Games trilogy jumped up to No. 4 on the USA Today bestseller list at the end of March, giving Suzanne Collins a sweep of that list’s top four. The three books in the series have held the top three positions for eleven weeks this year.
  • The Hunger Games movie audience is trending toward 60% women as opposed to the 80% typical for the Twilight series.
  • Today posted an essay by author Mike Carey, whom they describe as an author writing a novel that “revolves around a strong female heroine” – a description for characters and their Heroine’s Journeys that I’ve been backing for a while now. His essay, The Long Arm of the Lore: Female Heroes In Pop-Culture, follows up on an earlier article by Jill Pantozzi on the potential implications of the box office success of The Hunger Games, and Carey agrees with her that the movie’s success illustrates how the expectations of the movie industry (and many movie critics) may be pretty divergent from the reality out there in the market for heroic fiction. I particularly liked this part of Carey’s piece:

Our imaginations don’t have genitals … We prefer our heroines, just like our heroes, to be real people, not cardboard cut-outs – which, in the end, means that their gender isn’t going to be their determining trait.  It’s part of their identity, sure.  How could it not be?  But it doesn’t define them, any more than a score of other things define them.  It’s in the mix, that’s all, and it shouldn’t make a difference to how the reader responds to them.



Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and the intersection of women within Star Wars fandom. She is co-author of Ultimate Star Wars and Star Wars Visual Encyclopedia from DK Publishing, a featured writer for Star Wars Insider magazine with numerous articles on the Hero's Journey. Her FANgirl opinions can be heard on the podcasts Hyperspace Theories and Fangirls Going Rogue. Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to