Hollywood fat cats often point to box-office potential as one reason why their films don’t feature more diverse casts. A new study from Creative Artists Agency debunks that theory, according to a Los Angeles Times report, and the results are fairly definitive: “The average opening weekend for a film that attracts a diverse audience, often the result of having a diverse cast, is nearly three times on average a film with non-diverse audiences.”
CAA’s Christy Haubegger Talitha Watkins put the Motion Picture Diversity Index together. Haubegger stated the results plainly: “One of the interesting things that the most successful movies share is that they’re broadly appealing to diverse audiences,” she said. “People want to see a world that looks like theirs.”
After crunching the numbers — nonwhite people make up 38% of the population but accounted for 45% of theatrical audiences last year — they looked at 413 different movies released between 2014 and 2016. Again, the results were clear: “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.”
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That can be seen in smaller movies like “Get Out” and “Hidden Figures” and in blockbusters like “Rogue One” and “The Fate of the Furious.”
“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,” said Richard Lovett, president of CAA. More on the study here.