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Moviegoing Increases When Marginalized Groups Are Represented in Films, Study Says

A top movie research firm says it has data to prove that racial and gender diversity in films increases attendance to movie theaters in the United States.

In its latest data drop, analytics firm Movio has discovered “a correlation between a minority group’s representation on screen and that group’s audience turnout, with some groups attending in numbers at more than twice the usual rate.” The report also shows that consumers less inclined to head to the movies will turn up to the multiplex if they see themselves projected on screen.

The report observed trends across multiple top recent releases, including Jordan Peele’s “Us,” Jon M. Chu’s “Crazy Rich Asians” and Pixar’s animated smash “Coco.”

The Latinx community, a formidable box office force that has grown in recent years, saw a 75% increase in attendance to “Coco” compared to another top franchise installment, “Incredibles 2.” The former follows a young Mexican boy who dreams of becoming a musician, magically transported to the afterlife where he encounters his ancestors.

“Us,” Peele’s follow-up to the socially relevant horror film “Get Out,” drew nearly 100% more African Americans than a similar title, Paramount’s “A Quiet Place.” Peele’s film, about a family haunted by doppelgangers at their California vacation home, cost marginally the same as “Quiet Place” and earned eight times its budget.

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The study also touched on romantic comedies, an increasingly endangered genre for risk-averse studios who seem happy to let the mid-budget films disappear into streaming services.  In comparison to New Line’s Rebel Wilson comedy “Isn’t It Romantic,” the groundbreaking “Crazy Rich Asians” drew 186% more attendees from the Asian community. “What Men Want,” starring Taraji P. Henson, attracted 296% more of black audiences than Wilson’s romantic satire.

The ubiquitous superhero genre also benefits from diversifying its caped crusaders. The formidable “Black Panther” demanded 38% more black customers than “Avengers: Infinity War,” which is impressive given the star power and resources Marvel Studios allocated to the latter.  The report’s most interesting fact might be its findings on women at the helm of comic book fare.

An analysis of the respective performances for he DC Films titles “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman” showed that the female audience barely changed for both — fixed between 40% and 41% attended by women. The study notes that an “absence of under-performance” should be as meaningful as over-performance for this kind of film, given how dismal studios have performed in featuring female heroes in lead roles.

Read the full Movio report here.

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