Actress Sanaa Lathan recently chatted with The Huffington Post about a topic near and dear to our hearts, the lack of diversity in Hollywood:
“I think Hollywood has a ways to go. Certainly in the last couple of years with ‘Think Like A Man’ and even recently with ‘Straight Outta Compton’ doing well,” she said. “But I think the language needs to change, the language about ‘Oh, this is an Urban film or this is a niche film.’ No, these are Hollywood films. And it’s to marginalize us because it’s like some kind of a freak thing that we’ve made all this money off this movie. That’s a problem for me.”
Sanaa’s new movie “The Perfect Guy” opens September 11th. Here is the official trailer:
Just a couple of days we posted on how diverse casts sell more movie tickets. This weekend’s box office has given us an excellent example of this principal in a faith-based movie you probably have not heard of called War Room. The movie was made for 3 million and it made 11 million, over 3x it’s dinky budget.
Credit for “War Room’s” ticket sales surge goes to its cast of African-Americans. That allowed the film to draw from pools of black and white moviegoers, an essential ingredient in its success given that polling shows that African-Americans are more religious than the U.S. population as a whole. Nearly 90% of African-Americans describe themselves as belonging to a religious group, with six out of ten coming from historically black protestant churches and 15% hailing from evangelical churches, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. For “War Room,” that translated to a racially diverse opening weekend crowd that was 36% African-American and 42% Caucasian, according to exit data.
We have proof that diversity sells movies — so why can’t all of Hollywood catch up?
Good question. As they point out quite effectively, diversity sells and sells big. Movies with relatively small budgets and diverse casts are proving to be more profitable than Big Budget Blockbusters with all white casts.
The box office is global, and diversity sells. No wonder wistful, quiet films about suburban adolescence (“Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl”; “Paper Towns,” “The Diary of Teenage Girl,”) seemed to mostly appeal to big city critics approaching midlife crises. Notably, the “fourth-, fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-highest grossers this year,” Mark Harris points out in his analysis for Grantland, were also released by Universal. These films–“Pitch Perfect 2,” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Straight Outta Compton,” and “Trainwreck”–share more than a few features in common, including the fact that they’re cinematic Velveeta: highly processed, approaching cheesy, and likely to be shelf-stable for decades. Per Harris, these films had “modest budgets, strong marketing, and a lack of concern about bringing in the young white male demographic that is still considered by too many studios the be-all-and-end-all of the movie business.” Combined, the box office receipts of these four films also surpass the one billion mark, giving them higher profitability ratios than the Big Three because of their relatively tiny budgets.
The article doesn’t really tackle the issue of Hollywood is being so stubborn, but I’m pretty sure those of you how reading this have your ideas as to why. Regardless, the truth is undeniable, diversity sells in the global marketplace and it’s just good business to recognize that and cast accordingly.