Study discovers obvious: diverse casting increases box office potential

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

The cineplexes have never been more diverse. From the multiracial and female led STAR WARS films, to the "surprise" smash successes of WONDER WOMAN, HIDDEN FIGURES, and GET OUT, to the improbable billion-dollar FAST AND FURIOUS franchise, to the anticipation of BLACK PANTHER and CAPTAIN MARVEL, it seems films are only getting more diverse – which is only a good thing. Not only that, but it's not only a victory for female and minority actors to get leading roles (and leading salaries) – it's also an economic victory as well.

According to the LA Times a new study and database was crafted by Creative Artists Agency to show how a film with a diverse cast will outperform a release not so diversified at the box-office. The article goes on to say:

[The study shows] non-white moviegoers made up 49% of tickets sold in 2016, and 45% in 2015. Because the numbers outpace the 38% of the U.S. population who are non-white, CAA became interested in the audience makeup of the top-grossing films of the year. With additional data from comScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak and the Studio System, the goal was to determine the correlative factors of diverse casting, diverse audiences and box office success.

CAA examined 413 theatrical films released from January 2014 through December 2016, detailing cast ethnicity for the top 10 billed actors per movie, a total of 2,800 people. They found that for the top 10 grossing movies in 2016, 47% of the opening weekend audience (and 45% in 2015) were people of color. Moreover, seven of the 10 highest-grossing movies from 2016 (and four from 2015’s top 10) delivered opening weekend audiences that were more than 50% non-white.

From there, the study notes that at every budget level, a film with a cast that is at least 30% non-white — CAA’s definition of a “truly diverse” film — outperforms a release that is not truly diverse in opening weekend box office. And on the audience side of things, the average opening weekend for a film that has a “truly diverse” audience, pegged at 38% to 70% non-white, is $31 million versus $12 million for films with non-diverse audiences.

The numbers suggest a more diverse cast brings a more diverse audience, which brings in more money.

Here's what Christy Haubegger – leader of CAA’s multicultural development group, who oversaw the study – had to say about those findings:

One of the interesting things that the most successful movies share is that they’re broadly appealing to diverse audiences…People want to see a world that looks like theirs.

And Richard Lovett, CAA’s president, added: "The hope is that seeing real numbers attached to the success of the inclusion of more voices and diverse casts will be further motivation for studios, networks and others to be really conscious of the opportunity."

Honestly, at this point, it's hard to constantly be surprised that films with diverse casts make tons of money. And, look, the world has always been diverse – Hollywood is just now realizing it's something that they can use to make more money. Which isn't ideal, but certainly a win if it means films with more diverse casts and behind-the-scenes crew.

Source: LA Times

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