NEW YORK -- While 2017 may have been the year of "Wonder Woman," but a new study finds that female protagonists were down 5 per cent in the year's 100 top-grossing films.

The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University released its annual "It's a Man's (Celluloid) World" on Thursday. It found that females comprised 24 per cent of protagonists last year, down from 29 per cent in 2016 despite high-profile releases like "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and "Beauty and the Beast" -- 2017's top two films at the box office.

Researchers determined that while 32 per cent of films featured 10 or more female characters in speaking roles, 79 per cent had 10 or more male characters.

"In an awards season when talk about women and gender has been top of mind, we need to separate hyperbole from reality," said Martha Lauzen, executive director of the San Diego State centre. "The numbers do not yet reflect claims of a tectonic or massive shift in the film industry."

However, black female characters increased from 14 per cent to 16 per cent, and Latinas went from 3 per cent to 7 per cent. Asian females increased from 6 per cent to 7 per cent.

The study analyzed 2,361 characters from 2017's top 100 films at the box office. It has been conducted annually since 2002.