You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

GLAAD Report: Major Film Studios Fail to Increase LGBT Representation

Major film studios broadly fell short last year of increasing the number of characters in their movies that are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ), according to a new analysis issued Thursday by GLAAD.

Only 23 of the 125 films counted by the New York-based media advocacy group featured an LGBTQ character last year, accounting for less than 20 percent of films produced by the seven studios GLAAD rated in its report. The organization rates studios’ efforts as excellent, good, insufficient, poor, or failing.

No film studio has earned an “excellent” rating in the five years GLAAD has tracked LGBTQ representation. Universal Studios earned the highest mark, rating “insufficient” but it drew praise for films like “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” which featured an “unexpectedly well-handled subplot” involving a gay fraternity brother’s wedding engagement and how the pending nuptials strained his friendship with his former fraternity brother, Teddy, played by Zac Efron.

Earning “poor” ratings were 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Bros. Lionsgate Entertainment, Sony Pictures, and Walt Disney Studios earned “failing” ratings.

Some art house divisions were also analyzed, but not part of the parent studio’s final rating. They included Fox Searchlight and Universal Picture’s Focus Features.

GLAAD’s annual Studio Responsibility Index is intended to pressure top movie studios to feature more LGBTQ characters and in more meaningful ways. Too often, GLAAD says, LGBTQ characters appear only briefly in films or in service of a joke. Of the films featuring LGBTQ characters, only nine passed the report’s Vito Russo test, a measurement that examines how well-rounded and integral the character is in the film.

Drawing a contrast between television and film, GLAAD said major studios are lagging their TV counterparts in boosting the number of LGBTQ roles.

“It is not getting better,” GLAAD president and chief executive, Sarah Kate Ellis, tells Variety. “The bars are not being moved.”

Ellis nonetheless says she is optimistic representation of LGBTQ characters will improve, pointing to Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” live-action remake, released in March, as an example.

LeFou, sidekick to villain, Gaston, is gay and in the final moments of the film, LeFou dances with a man during the ball sequence. The inclusion of a gay character in the reboot of a Disney classic stirred controversy, particularly abroad. Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation where sodomy is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and whipping, initially objected to the scene, pressing for it to be cut. Disney stood firm, resisting any edits to the film, and exhibitors eventually showed the movie in full. In Russia, viewership was restricted to those 16 and older.

The film went on to become one of Disney’s most successful films, grossing more than $1.2 billion worldwide.

At a time when countries like Chechnya are committing human rights violations against suspected LGBTQ individuals, including kidnapping, torture and murder, it’s more important than ever to focus on representation in film, the country’s largest cultural export, Ellis says.

“Having representation, especially in the films that are widely distributed not only here in the States, they change hearts and minds,” Ellis says. “They allow people who are LGBTQ to see themselves reflected. That’s why it’s so important.”

For all the fanfare surrounding “Moonlight,” the 2016 film released by A24, the number of LGBTQ individuals of color declined for the second year in a row, according to the report. Last year, 20 percent of the 70 LGBTQ characters identified by GLAAD were people of color, compared with 32.1% in 2014.

Gay men are featured far more often than other members of the LGBTQ community, the report found. GLAAD found only one transgender character featured in Paramount’s “Zoolander 2,” and criticized the depiction of the character, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Ellis says studios should labor to stop using LGBTQ characters as the punch line or punching bag. “That’s a good step in the right direction.”

GLAAD‘s breakdown of films by major studio:

20th Century Fox: 16 films, three included LGBTQ characters. Two films passed Vito Russo test.
Lionsgate Entertainment: 24 films, three included LGBTQ characters. One film passed the Vito Russo test.
Paramount Pictures: 15 films, five included appearances by LGBTQ characters. Three films passed the Vito Russo test.
Sony Pictures: 21 films, two included appearances by LGBTQ characters. One film passed the Vito Russo test.
Universal Pictures: 17 films, five included appearances by LGBTQ people. Two films passed the Vito Russo test.
Walt Disney Studios: 13 films, one included an appearance by LGBTQ characters. None passed the Vito Russo test.
Warner Brothers: 19 films, four included appearances by LGBTQ characters. None passed the Vito Russo test.

More Film

  • Glass Movie

    Box Office: M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass' Cracks $3.7 Million on Thursday Night

    M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” cracked $3.7 million at 3,200 North American sites on Thursday night. Universal’s “Glass” brings together the narratives of Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable,” which was released in 2000, and 2016’s “Split.” The supernatural thriller unites stars Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, and Sarah Paulson. The film is set to open in 3,841 [...]

  • Indie Sales Acquires Berlinale-Bound Coming-of-Age Drama

    Indie Sales Acquires Berlinale-Bound Coming-of-Age Drama 'A Colony'

    Paris-based company Indie Sales has acquired the coming-of-age drama “A Colony” which will be making its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in the generation section. “A Colony” marks the feature debut of Geneviève Dulude-De Celles, whose short film “The Cut” won a prize at Sundance in 2014. Set in Sorel Tracy, a Quebec [...]

  • Bac Launches 'Alice And The Mayor,'

    Bac Launches 'Alice and the Mayor,' 'My Days of Glory' at UniFrance Rendez-Vous (EXCLUSIVE)

    Paris-based Bac Films is launching a slate of new acquisitions at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous in Paris, including Nicolas Pariser’s “Alice And The Mayor” with Fabrice Luchini, and Antoine de Bary’s concept comedy “My Days of Glory” with Vincent Lacoste. “Alice And The Mayor” stars Luchini as Paul Théraneau, a prominent French mayor who has run [...]

  • Viacom International Studios New Management Structure

    Federico Cuervo to Head New Management Structure at Viacom International Studios

    Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) –Americas has announced a new management structure for its fast-expanding Viacom International Studios (VIS) which will see Federico Cuervo filling the role of senior vice president-head of VIS, reporting to Darío Turovelzky, newly named SVP of global contents at VIMN Americas. Turovelzky remains co-chief of VIMN. Under the new structure, [...]

  • Berlin: Edko Films Picks up Zhang

    Berlin: Edko Films Picks Up Zhang Yimou’s ‘One Second’

    Hong Kong studio Edko Films has picked up international rights to “One Second,” the newest movie by top Chinese director Zhang Yimou. The film will have its world premiere in competition in Berlin, it was announced this week. “One Second” is pitched as Zhang’s personal love letter to cinema, and as a return to his [...]

  • Sygeplejeskolen sc 205

    Claudia Boderke, Lars Mering Talk SF Studios ‘The New Nurses’

    The inevitable comparison for SF Studios’ “The New Nurses,” at least from a Danish broadcast perspective, is “Something’s Rockin,’” another 2018 TV 2 Charlie show which was retro but forward-looking. “Something’s Rockin’” described the birth of an independent radio with culture in Denmark. Produced by SF Studios’ Senia Dremstrup (“Norskov”),  “The New Nurses” talks cleverly [...]

  • Robert Redford

    Robert Redford to Receive Honorary Cesar Award

    Legendary American actor and director Robert Redford is set to receive an honorary Cesar award, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, at the 44th annual Cesar ceremony, which will take place Feb. 22 in Paris. “An iconic actor, an exceptional director, a passionate producer, founder and president of Sundance, the most revered festival of independent films [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content