Dress for Success - Does it Work for Women in Movies?

ETA: It looks like this study ran from December 2011 to May or June 2012.

Everyone knows that men do better at the box office. It might even be true. Of course, men typically get bigger budgets, and budget is the single biggest predictor of success. But what if part of the problem is that female characters aren't being taken seriously enough?

Last year Jennifer Kesler at The Hathor Legacy suggested that female action heroes do very well indeed when they're dressed modestly and for action, instead of, you know, slutted up.

Is this true? Let's find out!

I have listed here a fairly exhaustive list of female action heroes from 1992 to the present. (34, to be precise.) You rate them on how professionally and practically they are dressed, then when we have enough votes that the scores are stable, I can run them against box office, controlling for inflation, budget, and anything else that might matter, and we can see if how they are dressed makes any difference in how popular they are at the box office. (I'll also post the summary scores here so you can compare them against box office yourself. No need to trust my calculations!)

To get on this list, the character must be:

  1. Female
  2. The main character (so no Sarah Connor)
  3. Not in an ensemble cast (so no Charlie's Angels or Sucker Punch)
  4. In a film released wide in North America since 1992, so that it's been reviewed by Kids In Mind for content (so no Aliens)
  5. In a film released in English, because foreign language films don't do as well so it's hard to compare box office fairly (so no La Femme Nikita)
  6. In a live action film, because comparing live action and animated at the box office is like comparing apples and oranges (though I don't know of any animated films that would qualify anyway)
  7. In a film that is primarily an action film (so no Buffy the Vampire Slayer) - when in doubt check the genre list on IMBd: the first genre listed should be "action"

**UPDATE** As of December 31, 2011, the order of the characters has been randomized.

**UPDATE 2** May, 2012: see the menu for links to analyses of the data so far. The polls are still open, and others are welcome to analyze the data at any time and send links.

**UPDATE 3** October 2017: I've closed the poll after having completely forgotten about it for years. I have no idea when the last data was added.