International Audiences Love White American Movies

I never thought of Hollywood diversity this way before. A new study shows that for Hollywood’s non-American audiences, “American” means “white.” And since international distribution is where the big money is, change doesn’t look imminent.

Thanks, wypipo!

"Are diversity issues and, more specifically, the lack of non-white and female lead characters in Hollywood films driven, in part, by economic concerns from movie studios? An analysis of over 800 films sampled between 2005 and 2012 suggests the answer is xyes.’

"Many actors and activists have raised concerns related to diversity in Hollywood films.

"Our data supports the view that demographic disparities exist. In our sample of films, only 28 percent have a female first lead character and only 19 percent have a non-white first lead character. These figures are in stark contrast to the population demographics of the U.S., where the Census Bureau reports approximately 51 percent female and 35 percent non-white or Hispanic.

"We examine the relationship between cast demographics and theater audiences while simultaneously controlling for numerous factors that may affect a movie’s success. The goal is to analyze potential gender and racial biases from the consumer side through their influence on box office revenue both domestically and internationally.

"We find no persuasive evidence of gender diversity on movie revenue. However, we do find evidence that the racial diversity of a film’s cast has a significant negative effect on international box office revenue. The effect of cast race characteristics on movie revenue disappears in the domestic market, but persists in the international market even after controlling for key film characteristics. Since international box office revenue is now more than twice as large as domestic revenue, the economic incentive for studios to cater to the preferences of international audiences is larger than ever.

“The results provide convincing evidence that studio executives have legitimate concerns about the relationship between diversity and revenue. Negative effects of characters being non-white could explain the racial disparity observed in Hollywood films as a decision motivated by profit.”


We’re not the only racists, I guess (white america, I mean).

I wonder how Black Panther is going to do globally, since this seems to be an issue. It’s a majority black cast, set in a fictional African nation, etc. It’s also part of a pretty successful movie franchise that has had success around the world.


Please tell me the mostly-white Gods of Egypt didn’t make a bunch of money overseas.


Action spectacles of that sort usually do.

per IMDB

So yes it did.


But it only got just a bit more than 2 million over what they paid to make it.


and given that a high percentage of the gross actually goes to theaters…




I think this will change through a combination of affirmative decisions and recognition of demographic realities and the associated business opportunities. It won’t happen overnight, but the perception of “American/Western = white” is shifting. Some related articles about movement away from these default assumptions:

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I’m tempted to agree hopefully, but then I remember that that kind of gradualism sounds so much like the very kind of white-moderate tut-tutting that MLK warned about in his famous letter.

American POC gotta make their own movies, instead of waiting for white Hollywood and international audiences to catch up. Good thing it’s easier now to do just that.


It’s not the kind of civil rights gradualism driven by social consciouness and justice. Hollywood being Hollywood, it’ll mostly be about going where the money is and casting accordingly.


Too true. It’s not like the people running it have ever displayed anything but the most infinitesimal twinge of social conscience (despite its reputation as a bastion of liberalism).


So here is some analysis of the upcoming Black Panther film, which is expected to do as well, if not better than most MCU films, both domestically and abroad… but it includes some interesting stats for both domestic and international box office for films based on the racial make up of the cast. The film that did the best with a black majority cast was Straight Outta Compton domestically, and it’s way down the list. But the Eddie Murphy classic Coming to America did best globally…

Anyway… I think part of this is the actual demand to see more diversity, but also the growth of hollywood as a major part of the global economy, too.

Yes! This is true. I think they are and have been, too, and are finally pushing more fruitfully to be part of the mainstream hollywood structure as well. But I think another problem with hollywood is that films that focus on black lives and experiences that do well with white audiences tend to be films that include lots of black suffering (about slavery or the classical civil rights movement, etc). Films about black lives that aren’t about don’t do nearly as well with white audiences - films like Coming to America or How Stella got her Groove Back are sort of exceptions, I think, that illustrate the rule. Or what was that more recent film with Tiffany Haddish? Girl’s Trip? Even the excellent Get Out was about black suffering in a sense - literally black bodies being taken over by white people. It’s a wonderful film, deserved it’s critical acclaim, but black people suffered in that too.

And that is what is going to make Black Panther interesting… it’s a genre film, part of a larger cinematic universe, that will bring in a more diverse crowd overall, and will not focus on black suffering but on black power as it’s underlying theme. That will be interesting to see the reaction of whites in the audience. I’m guessing we’ll see the same critic/white hardcore fan split we saw with the Last Jedi.

Anyways… I freakin’ can’t wait for Black Panther. It’s going to kick ass!

And also, since I mentioned the always funny Coming to America…


Man… what’s happened with Arsenio Hall in recent years?


In the words of the great @Pasapan, Roger that!

Last I heard, he was busy getting an apology from Sinead O’Connor.

But surely he’s been up to more than that…

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Oh Sinead… I hope she’s okay.

Apparently, he’s primarily doing stand up right now.

And I guess he did Celebrity Apprentice 5 and won? And he was a stay at home dad for a while, too…

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