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Diverse movie casts boost audience turnout: study

Many people of color, ethic minorities, and men and women of various cultures often find themselves underrepresented on the big screen when they go to a movie. A new report from media research firm Movio supports that theory and suggests that diverse movie casts can help films be more profitable.

Movio found correlating numbers between a film's lead characters and it's in-theater audience. The research compared films of similar genres, but with different casts: one featuring an underrepresented group and one with a primarily white cast.

Pixar family animated films like 2017’s “Coco,” the story of a Mexican boy and his family, saw a nearly 75% more Latinx audience compared to 2018’s “Incredibles 2,a film about the adventures of a white family. Horror movie “Us” was a box office smash in 2019, attracting an audience that was nearly 100% more black than the audience that attended the 2018 sci-fi horror film “A Quiet Place.” (The diverse cast of Us was also of note for also drawing a large number of non-black moviegoers to theater.)


“I think there's been an increase in focus on diversity and inclusion in Hollywood over the last few years but very little understanding about how that actually relates to moviegoers,” said Craig Jones, chief commercial officer at Movio. “We were able to identify that there was a strong relationship between when a minority group is represented on the big screen and that group's attendance at the box office, with some of those groups attending at more than twice the usual rate, which is a staggering number in itself.”

Other factors were considered in the research as well, such frequency of movie attendance by different groups, marketing, and demographics.

“You could probably assume that America's increasingly diverse population, and by extension, its increasingly diverse moviegoing population, is more likely to turn up to the theater if they see themselves represented in the stories and the characters that are portrayed on the big screen,” Jones said on Yahoo Finance’s The Final Round.

Jones also noted that the study could prove helpful for movie studios and distributors both large and small.

“I think this presents an interesting opportunity, not only for the big studios, the likes of the Disneys and the Universals and the like, but also for those small- to medium-sized studios to know that they can go out there and produce quality diverse content, that there is going to be an audience out there for it, and if they can connect to that audience for effective marketing, they can drive meaningful box office results. And I think that that's really important when I think about the future success of this industry.”

Marabia Smith is a producer for Yahoo Finance The Final Round. Follow her on Twitter @MarabianNights

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