African-Americans, Asian-Americans Went to More Movies in 2016 (Study)

Hidden Figures
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

African-Americans and Asian-Americans showed up in force at the box office in 2016 as major movies showed greater diversity in their casting and subject matter, according to a new report by the Motion Picture Association of America.

The number of frequent African-American moviegoers nearly doubled to 5.6 million last year, while the number of regular Asian ticket-buyers jumped from 3.2 million to 3.9 million. The MPAA defines frequent moviegoers as people who attend the cinema once a month or more. Both groups were over-represented on a population basis. African-Americans made up 15% of frequent moviegoers, while comprising 12% of the U.S. population. Asians account for 8% of the population, but made up 11% of frequent moviegoers.

Related

Captain American Civil War Finding Dory Top Movies at Box Office

Global Box Office Hits Record $38.6 Billion in 2016 Even as China Slows Down

In 2016, Asians over-represented the most of any group in terms of per capita ticket buying. They went to the movies an average of 6.1 times last year, up from 4.9 times in 2015. African-Americans went an average of 4.2 times, and increase over the 3.5 times they averaged in 2015.

The rise in attendance comes as Hollywood created more movies featuring black characters, such as “Hidden Figures,” a commercial hit about pioneering African-American NASA workers, and “Moonlight,” a coming-of-age drama that won best picture at the Oscars. It also follows an industry-wide debate about diversity that was triggered after black performers were shut out of the Academy Awards for two consecutive years. This year’s Oscars were notably more diverse — not only did “Moonlight” win, but its star Mahershala Ali nabbed best supporting actor and Viola Davis picked up a supporting actress statue for her work in “Fences.”

Related

Oscars Best Picture Moonlight

Oscars Best Picture Gaffe and Slow Response Eclipse Diversity Gains

Asian characters did pop up in such blockbusters as “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “The Magnificent Seven,” but there were also several instances of “whitewashing” that raised protests. “Ghost in the Shell,” an upcoming adaptation of a Japanese manga, and “Doctor Strange,” a Marvel Comics film, both cast white actors as characters that had originally been depicted as Asian.

It’s not clear if these movies were just a few stray examples of diversity that attracted attention because of their commercial success or if the industry is creating more roles for actors of color. There was certainly ample room for improvement. A USC study from last fall found that out of the top-grossing films of 2015, white actors played 73.7% of speaking or named characters. The researchers discovered that only 12.2% of speaking or named characters were black, 5.3% were Latino, and 3.9% were Asian.

Not every ethnic group was showing up as frequently to the multiplexes. Hispanics have been one of the most reliable groups of moviegoers, but they didn’t exhibit the same appetite for the films being released last year. The remained the second-biggest sector of ticket buyers after Caucasians, but their representation dipped on a per capita basis. Hispanics frequented the movies 4.6 times on average, down from 2015 when they averaged 5.2 visits.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 4

Leave a Reply

4 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Wanker says:

    I hear that, the media is the most racial peeps out there. They always have a label.

  2. pat says:

    Why is the media so worried about labeling people ?
    Who really cares!

    • Michael says:

      Well… Usually the people who care most about these statistics are the people making the films/choosing which films to fund. Sounds like you’re approaching this from the angle of identity, while the film industry is approaching it from the angle of finding new areas to grow into and keeping their fingers on the pulse of the market. These kinds of studies help them read demand and make more money.

    • It matters to those who like to see themselves reflected on screen. It isn’t just about labels. It’s about representation.

More Film News from Variety

Loading