New Report Wants To Make Sure Hollywood Walks The Walk On Diversity

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Over the weekend, “Hustlers” debuted at the box office, making over $33 million, exceeding industry expectations of about $25 million. Starring Constance Wu and featuring a career-defining performance from Jennifer Lopez, the electrifying drama about former strippers who scammed their Wall Street clients — directed by Lorene Scafaria — is yet another example of Hollywood underestimating demand for movies by and about women and people of color.

 

For a long time, Hollywood executives operated under the myth that movies featuring diverse casts wouldn’t sell at the box office, particularly when they began turning their attention toward international audiences, which increasingly make up a significant portion of Hollywood’s source of revenue.

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But time and time again, box office successes have proven them wrong, from “Hidden Figures” in 2016, to “Get Out” and “Wonder Woman” in 2017, to “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” last year.

 

For more than five years, an annual report from researchers at UCLA has found that these box office hits are largely driven by diverse audiences who want to see movies that reflect themselves — meaning that if Hollywood executives don’t prioritize diversity and representation on-screen, they’re leaving money on the table. That proved to be the case once again with “Hustlers”: according to STX, the studio behind the movie, 67% of the opening weekend audience consisted of women, and 65% were people of color.

A new study released Wednesday by the same UCLA team aims to outline best practices to guide industry leaders in actually ensuring better diversity and representation, particularly in behind-the-camera roles and in positions of power.

 

While many individual film and TV stars and creators have championed their own efforts to elevate marginalized voices, the perennial studies on diversity and representation have noted that it requires an industrywide effort to change practices and institutions. (read more)

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