Diverse Films Perform Better at Global Box Office, Study Says

Straight Outta Compton
Courtesy of Universal

According to UCLA’s latest Hollywood Diversity Report, films with more diverse casts perform better at the global box office than films with less diverse casts.

The study, which hails from the university’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, examined 63 films released in 2014 and discovered that the median global sales of productions with a 41-50% non-white cast was $122 million, compared to $53 million for films with a non-white cast of less than 10%.

According to data from media measurement company Rentrak, the Bunche Center’s researchers estimated that 58% of moviegoers that attended the eight most diverse films sampled in the study were non-white. They also found that non-whites account for nearly 50% of the country’s movie ticket sales.


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“The conventional wisdom has been, you can’t have a film with a minority lead because it’s not going to travel well overseas — and films make most of their money overseas,” said Bunche Center director Darnell Hunt on the results of the study. “What our study is suggesting is that that logic is false.”

The report also includes an examination of television, which revealed that diversity has a similar effect on TV ratings as it does on movie ticket sales. According to the Bunche Center’s findings, broadcast TV shows with majority non-white casts scored the highest ratings among the 18-49 audience bracket.

Median Box Office and Audience Demographics by Overall Cast Diversity
% Minority No. Films Global B.O. White Share Black Share Latino Share Asian Share
> 10% 55 $52.6m $60.3m 14% 15.1% 10.6%
11%-02% 48 $101.9m 55.8% 16.3% 16.8% 11.2%
21%-30% 28 $86.5m 56.8% 15.9% 16.2% 11.1%
31%-40% 9 $40.2m 51.5% 17.1% 20.7% 10.6%
41%-50% 8 $122.2m 41.8% 23.4% 23.7% 11.1%
Over 50% 14 $52.4m 31.3% 47.2% 13.1% 8.3%
Top 10 Box Office Films Audience Minority Share
Rank Title B.O. Return Audience Minority
1. Transformers: Age of Extinction $1,104m 4.26 59%
2. The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies $955.1m 2.82 41%
3. Guardians of the Galaxy $774.2m 3.55 44%
4. Maleficent $758.4m 3.21 49%
5. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1 $752.1m 5.02 41%
6. X-Men: Days of Future Past $748.1m 2.74 51%
7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier $714.8m 3.2 47%
8. The Amazing Spiderman 2 $709m 1.78 57%
8. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes $708.8m 3.17 59%
9. Interstellar $672.7m 3.08 41%

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  1. Rod Lancer says:

    S is correct: Total BS. If you look at the report itself, the way they count casts – and define “minority” participation is completely arbitrary and doesn’t stand up to any serious analysis. They mix in supporting players with stars, and just count bodies. More to the point, look at the domestic vs international numbers on Compton, where the film did close to $175m US and tanked overseas. We all agree there needs to be more divirsity in films. But cherry-picked data isn’t helping.

  2. Joe says:

    Don’t care. Movies have mostly become tired and sometimes just political preaching. Not interested.

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