Diversity is Actually Making Hollywood More Money But They Still Whitewash Films

Hollywood, take notice: Creating movies with the more diverse casts will make moviegoers flock to the theaters, according to a new study revealed.

Diversity reportedly helps keep ratings for television shows and ticket sales for films up in the United States, according to the findings released by UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.

Despite this, the report noted that women and racial minorities remain extremely underrepresented in the entertainment industry, according to The Wrap.

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“While there have been some improvements, especially in television, the numbers remain disheartening across the board,” lead researcher Darnell Hunt said in a statement. “At the heart of it is the fact that Hollywood is simply not structured to make the most of today’s market realities.”

In the study, 200 top-grossing movies from 2015, and 1,206 TV shows from the 2014-2015 season were extensively reviewed. Currently in its fourth annual edition, the research monitored the hiring of women and minorities in 11 different on and off screen job roles.

The research highlighted that despite minorities making up 40% of the U.S. population, they only account for 13.6% of lead actors and 10.1% of directors in Hollywood films.

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It found that for the 25 movies with 21-30% of the cast being minorities in 2015, the median box office net profit stood at $105 million. Movies like “Terminator: Genisys”, “Spectre”, “San Andreas” and “Ant-Man” fall under this category.

Meanwhile, for the 64 movies with only 10% or less minorities in their cast had median worldwide box office earnings of only $41.9 million in the same period. This category notably has the highest number of movies.

In television, a similar audience preference is revealed with shows having more diversity faring better in the ratings.

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Programs which are 41-50% more diverse earned the highest ratings from White, Latino and Black households in the 18-49 age demographic. Shows like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, “New Girl” and “Elementary” fall in this category.  

Unfortunately, the majority of the shows (67 out of 123 programs) in 2015 only had 20% or less minority cast members.

“Less-diverse product underperforms in the marketplace, and yet it still dominates,” noted the study’s co-author Ana-Christina Ramón. “This makes no financial sense.”

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“Authentic storytelling humanizes those who are often depicted as stereotypes or not worthy of being depicted at all,” Ramon, who’s also the assistant director of the Bunche Center, added. “Representation matters to the little girl who has yet to dream of who she will become and to the grandmother who has never seen someone like herself on screen.”

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