Movies can earn better reviews and millions more at the box office, if their cultural depictions are authentic and free from stereotypes, a new report from the University of California, Los Angeles and Creative Artists Agency found.
The joint study, helmed by UCLA’s Center for Scholars and Storytellers and the Full Story Initiative at CAA, researched the impact of authentic inclusive representation (quantified as AIR scores) on box office performance and critical and audience reception. The study found that each AIR point increase meant a $18.8 million revenue bump for films with a budget of $159 million and more. All told, high-budget films could earn an additional $75.2 million by increasing their AIR scores, and audiences and critics responded more favorably to studio films with higher AIR scores.
“These findings are consistent with what our industry has known for years – authentic, inclusive representation drives our communities and business forward,” said Ruben Garcia, executive and co-head of cultural business strategy at CAA. “We remain committed to using our place within the industry to inspire storytellers and industry partners to center inclusion across their work, and to elevating conversations around the positive impact of AIR.”
AIR scores can be improved through casting, creative teams and storytelling. The study also found that movies from 2015 to 2019 had better representation scores overall than movies from the first half of the decade.
“As our nation continues to become more diverse, we felt it was important to examine how movies reflect the world we live in,” stated Dr. Yalda Uhls, Founding Director, UCLA’s Center for Scholars & Storytellers. “People of color currently represent more than 50% of the box office audience for moviegoers under the age of 18. They, of course, want to see themselves accurately reflected and portrayed.”
To view a full copy of FSI’s AIR study, which includes further details on the methodology used and subsequent calls to action, visit fullstoryinitiative.com