There’s been an increase in diversity on screen in recent years – and when that representation is depicted authentically, it can lead to big box office rewards. A new study by UCLA’s Center for Scholars and Storytellers and the Full Story initiative at the Creative Artist Agency (CAA) found that not only do authentic cultural depictions receive more positive acclaim from critics and audiences – but it also translates to more revenue for blockbuster films.
According to the study, which researched the impact of authentic inclusive representation (quantified as AIR scores) on box office performance and critical and audience reception, each AIR point increase meant a $18.8 million revenue bump for films with a budget of $159 million and more. Thus, high-budget films scoring poorly on AIR could be forfeiting a potential earning of $75.2 million more at the box office.
Regardless of budget, the study also found that films scoring higher on AIR scored 6% higher for audience scores, and 22% higher for critic scores. So, there’s incentive for films of all sizes to invest in authentic characters and storylines. AIR scores can be improved through casting, creative teams and storytelling.
“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, per Variety. “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.”
“As our nation continues to become more diverse, we felt it was important to examine how movies reflect the world we live in,” added Dr. Yalda Uhls, founding director of UCLA’s Center for Scholars and 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.”
Further details on the AIR study can be viewed at fullstoryinitiative.com.
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