Increasingly diverse audiences in the U.S. prefer diverse film content.
That’s the conclusion of UCLA’s latest annual Hollywood Diversity Report, released Thursday. The 2021 report, subtitled “Pandemic in Progress,” pointed to people of color accounting for more than 40 percent of the U.S. population and increasingly driving attendance at the multiplex and movie viewership for dominant streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
“In 2020, people of color accounted for the majority of opening weekend, domestic box office for six of the top 10 films (ranked by global box office) and half of the box office for a seventh top 10 film,” the UCLA report stated. Similarly, households of color punched above their weight when it came to movie viewership for eight of the top 10 films released on streaming platforms in 2020.
“Hollywood would benefit greatly from embracing 2020’s revelations about the bottom-line possibilities associated with major advances on the diversity front,” the report urged. At the same time, movie viewership comparisons for the past two years are complicated by the pandemic having led the major studios to delay theatrical releases for a slew of tentpole titles into 2021 and beyond.
The UCLA report said the top 10 movies released in 2020 that appealed to diverse audiences included Bad Boys for Life, which had over half of its cast comprising minority actors and earned $426.5 million at the box office, while Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and Sonic the Hedgehog each had between 31 percent and 40 percent of people of color in the cast.
The annual report said the box office and streaming viewership gains for Hollywood movies with diverse casts coincided with the entertainment industry hiring more people of color for key onscreen and creative positions. “Films written or directed by people of color in 2020 had significantly more diverse casts than those written or directed by White men,” UCLA researchers stated.
That progress was also marked among women as, relative to men, they rose among the ranks last year when it came film leads, directors, writers and total actors. At the same time, considering women comprise slightly over half of the U.S. population, the UCLA study said they remain underrepresented in key positions in the entertainment industry.