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Movie Reviewers Lack Inclusion of Women and Minorities, New Study Finds

A new study shows a pervasive lack of inclusion of women and minorities among movie reviewers.

The report, released Friday and titled “Critic’s Choice II,” is the second in a series from Dr. Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and was conducted in partnership with Time’s Up Entertainment — an affiliate within Time’s Up’s coalition.

The report uses reviews of 300 top-grossing films from 2015 to 2017 posted on the site Rotten Tomatoes to assess gender and race/ethnicity of critics, including how this varies by film distributor and publication outlet.

Only 21.3% of the 59,751 reviews evaluated were written by female critics — a gender ratio of 3.7 male reviewers to every 1 female reviewer. Critics from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds composed 16.8% of these reviews and white male critics wrote 65.6% of the reviews.

“This study reveals that the inequality we see among critics is not a one-time problem,” said Smith, founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. “These are stable patterns that demonstrate that the conversation surrounding films and their value is not an inclusive one.”

Among top critics, white males wrote between 65% and 70% of film reviews at notable daily papers, daily and weekly newspapers, entertainment trades, general news outlets, and entertainment publications. The range across these outlets for white females was 6.1% to 33%, with general news scoring highest.

Underrepresented female critics wrote as few as 1.6% of all reviews at general news publications and at most 3.3% of reviews at the entertainment trades.

The study also showed an absence of women of color working as top reviewers, as 48.3% of the 300 films studied did not feature one underrepresented female top critic as a reviewer. Similarly, 45.4% of the 108 female-driven movies and 35.1% of the 57 films with an underrepresented actor at the center were not reviewed by even one underrepresented female top critic.

Academy Award winner Brie Larson had said in June that there was a need for inclusion among film critics.

“Dr. Stacy Smith and her team’s incredible work is at the forefront of the conversation about why it’s so vital to take action to improve representation among critics,” Larson said. “She articulates why it’s important for the entertainment industry to embrace the diverse voices in film criticism that already exist and ensure that the critics reviewing movies represent the audience that sees them. We can all do our part to create access and opportunity for the perspectives that have long been missing from these conversations.”

Smith will present the report’s findings during a keynote address at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Industry Conference on Friday.

Variety welcomes submissions from a diverse array of critical voices. Please email fests@variety.com with a resume and links to published film reviews for consideration as a freelance film critic.

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