UCLA: Movies make more money when only half the cast is white

LOS ANGELES -- Movies make more money when exactly half the cast is non-white, according to an annual analysis that shows an even stronger connection between diversity and profits -- and suggests how profoundly out of touch the motion picture academy is when giving Oscars only to white actors.

See Full Article

In previous years, movies did better at the box office if two or three of the top eight billed actors were non-white. The latest review, examining 2014 ticket sales, shows four of eight is the magic number, UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies found.

"When we look at film, we see an even stronger relationship between cast diversity and box office," said Darnell Hunt, director of the centre, which focuses on African American studies, at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"These aren't momentary glitches. It's the handwriting on the wall," Hunt said.

Not every top-performing film has a hugely diverse cast -- you have to scan down to the eighth listed actor in 2014's best movie, "Transformers: Age of Extinction," on IMDb.com to find Chinese actress Bingbing Li.

But in the study released Thursday, the Bunche Center took roughly the top 200 films of the last few years and looked at the median global haul at each grouping of diversity -- from zero non-white actors to one, two, three, four, and then five and over.

The best grouping -- where half the main cast was non-white -- had a median ticket revenue of $122.2 million, higher than any other group. That's more than double the $52.6 million median haul for films with no non-white actors in the top eight. Films where more than half the actors in the main cast were non-white also had a median of just $52.4 million.

It stands to reason why a modestly diverse cast pays off. In the U.S., Caucasians remained the largest moviegoing demographic in 2014 at 54 per cent, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. But U.S. Hispanic and Asian audiences punch above their weight, making up a greater proportion of frequent moviegoers who see movies at least once a month than their percentage of the population overall.

And sometimes diverse audiences are core. For the top movie that year, "Transformers: Age of Extinction," 62 per cent of the audience was non-white.

Overseas audiences -- led by fast-growing China -- are also making up an increasing share of the global box office, reaching 72 per cent of the $36.4 billion in 2014, up from 66 per cent just four years earlier. That trend has given rise to direct appeals to Chinese audiences, with filmmakers inserting scenes with Chinese actors in a handful of recent films, including "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation" and "Iron Man 3."

The motion picture academy behind the Oscars has moved swiftly to tamp down an uproar over its all-white acting nominee pool for the second year running. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has taken steps to diversify the membership of the overwhelmingly white and male institution.

Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton said recently at the Code Media conference that the move was a "positive step" to align the awards ceremony with the reality that diversity can be good for business.

"You only need to look at a film franchise like 'Fast and Furious' to see what an enormous success that movie has been and in large part I would argue, it's because of the diversity of the cast," he said. "I think the Academy has reacted very, very quickly and positively to what I think was a very, extremely unfortunate situation this year."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Jackie Evancho, Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform at inauguration, but A-listers gather at unofficial events

    Entertainment CBC News
    The new president called out "Great job, Jackie!" after 16-year-old Jackie Evancho delivered a soft-voiced rendition of the national anthem at Friday's swearing-in ceremony. INTERACTIVES | Donald Trump sworn in as president The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang America the Beautiful, and the Missouri State University Chorale sang Now We Belong, in a ceremony that featured decidedly less star power than in 2013. Source
  • Idina Menzel, Nia Long bring 'Beaches' remake to TV

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    PASADENA, Calif. — For Idina Menzel and Nia Long, director Garry Marshall’s 1988 melodrama “Beaches,” starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, is a four-hankie treat. So why do a remake? “Why not?” replied Long (“The Best Man Holiday”), pointing to the story’s timeless elements. Source
  • Rapper iLoveMakonnen comes out as gay

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Rapper iLoveMakonnen has come out as gay on social media. The hip-hop star, who used to be signed to Drake’s OVO Sound record label, took to Twitter in the early hours of Friday morning to confirm long-running rumours he is homosexual. Source
  • Al Gore stays mum on Trump meeting, says 'it's not the last'

    Entertainment CBC News
    Former Vice President Al Gore said that while he wouldn't divulge specifics about his December conversation with Donald Trump, it wasn't "the last conversation." Speaking to a packed auditorium in Park City following the premiere of the climate change documentary An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which kicked off the 33rd Sundance Film Festival Thursday, Gore said that he's seen a lot of people who started out as climate deniers change over time. Source
  • E-book publishers and Apple reach new deal with Competition Bureau over pricing

    Entertainment CBC News
    Three major book publishers have signed a deal with Canada's Competition Bureau that will allow retailers to sell those publishers' e-books at whatever price they want — something they couldn't do before. Holtzbrinck (which operates under the Macmillan brand name) along with Simon & Schuster and Hachette? have come to an agreement that could allow electronic book sellers such as Apple and Kobo to set the prices of books they sell by those publishing houses. Source
  • 'We make the terror'; On Inauguration Day, ’House of Cards’ announces May return

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — “House of Cards” will return in May for a fifth season. The show’s Twitter account posted a video on Inauguration Day featuring an upside-down U.S. flag in front of the U.S. Capitol. The video ends with the date May 30. Source
  • Animal treatment questions cancel 'A Dog's Purpose' premiere

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES - This weekend's premiere of "A Dog's Purpose" has been cancelled following the release of a video that appears to show a frightened dog being forced into churning water during production of the film. Source
  • On Inauguration Day, 'House of Cards' announces May return

    Entertainment CTV News
    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- "House of Cards" will return in May for a fifth season. The show's Twitter account posted a video on Inauguration Day featuring an upside-down U.S. flag in front of the U.S. Source
  • 3 ebook publishers and Apple reach new deal with Canadian competition authorities

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Three major publishers have signed an agreement with Canadian competition authorities that will permit retailers to sell the ebooks they publish at a discount -- a practice limited in some of their contracts. Source
  • Found photo likely Frédéric Chopin, says Polish cultural group

    Entertainment CBC News
    Poland's culture institute in France says it believes a previously unknown photograph of Polish composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin has probably been found by private researchers. If so, it would be only the second confirmed photographic image of him. Source