“Studios should consider [people of color] to be investors, and as investors, they should get a return in the form of representation,” one of the study’s authors said.
People of Color Dominate Movie Ticket Sales
People of color drove the box office successes of many of 2021’s highest-grossing movies, according to a report from the University of California, Los Angeles released Thursday.
The school’s film edition of its 2022 Hollywood Diversity Report detailed a variety of findings about diversity and growth in the industry, including the fact that in 2021, people of color made up one of the most sizable and consistent filmgoing populations in the United States.
“People of color accounted for the majority of opening weekend, domestic ticket sales for six of the top 10 films released in theaters in 2021,” the report noted.
Roughly 60% of ticket sales for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” — which was by far the highest-grossing picture of the year — came from viewers of color. For “F9: The Fast Saga,” 65% of the opening box office figures came from audiences of color. The demographic also accounted for between 51% to 59% of audience members for “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” and “Black Widow.”
The report stated that films with some degree of diversity saw a boost both at the box office and in at-home viewership.
“For the smaller-than-normal number of top films released theatrically in 2021, median global box office receipts peaked for those that had relatively diverse casts — from 21 percent to 30 percent minority,” the study said. “For the larger collection of top films released via streaming platforms in 2021, ratings for most groups were also highest for films with casts that were from 21 percent to 30 percent minority.”
Researchers also found that “social media interactions peaked for streaming films with casts that were from 41 percent to 50 percent minority.”
“Audiences of color are becoming an increasingly important market anchor, and diverse content sells,” the report continued.
Other Findings In The Report
Ana-Christina Ramón, a co-author of the report, argued that its findings should create an incentive for studios to make more films centered around people of color.
“Last year, every time a big movie exceeded expectations or broke a box office record, the majority of opening weekend audiences were people of color,” she said in a statement. “For people of color, and especially Latino families, theaters provided an excursion when almost everything else was shut down. In a sense, people of color kept studios afloat the past couple of years.”
“Studios should consider them to be investors, and as investors, they should get a return in the form of representation,” Ramón continued.
In regards to on-screen representation, the report did find that there has been steady growth for people of color on camera. Roughly 43% of actors in the analyzed movies were minorities, a significant increase from the first report in 2011 when the figure was just over 20%.
When it came to leads in 2021, 61% were white and 15% were Black. The report said Black actors were the only minority group “slightly overrepresented” in this field compared to their population share, as roughly 13% of the United States is Black.
Most other racial groups were underrepresented in leading roles. Latino actors accounted for 7% of roles, Asian actors for under 6%, and Indigenous actors only made up roughly half of a percentage.
Diversity lagged behind the camera, though. Just 3 out of 10 directors were people of color, and only 2.2 out of 10 were women.
“In 2021, diversity in front of the camera did not equate to more opportunities behind the camera for filmmakers who are women and people of color,” Ramón said. “They continue to receive less financing, even when they make films with white lead actors. Most of these filmmakers are relegated to low-budget films. For women of color, directing and writing opportunities are really the final frontier.”
See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (The Wrap) (Variety)
Senators Introduce Legislation Requiring Radios to Pay Royalties to Artists
Sen. Padilla argued the bill is necessary to give artists the “dignity and respect they deserve.”
The American Music Fairness Act
Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the American Music Fairness Act to the Senate on Thursday, a bill that would require radio stations to pay royalties to performers and rights holders.
The bill was previously introduced to the House last year. According to a release, the United States is the only democratic country where artists are not compensated for their music’s use on AM or FM radio. While songwriters and publishers receive payment, these stations have never been required to give a slice of the pie to performers and copyright holders.
On streaming and satellite radio, however, both groups receive royalty payments.
In a statement, Padilla said it is time the country starts treating “our musical artists with the dignity and respect they deserve for the music they produce and we enjoy every day.”
“California’s artists have played a pivotal role in enriching and diversifying our country’s music scene,” he added. “That is why passing the American Music Fairness Act is so important.”
“From Beale Street to Music Row to the hills of East Tennessee, the Volunteer State’s songwriters have undeniably made their mark,” Blackburn echoed. “Tennessee’s creators deserve to be compensated for their work. This legislation will ensure that they receive fair payment and can keep the great hits coming.”
The American Music Fairness Act would require terrestrial radio broadcasters to pay royalties to music creators when their songs are played. It would also protect smaller stations that either make less than $1.5 million in annual revenue or who have a parent company that makes less than $10 million in annual revenue by letting them play unlimited music for under $500 a year.
The bill would also require other countries to pay American artists for the use of their work.
Support From Major Music Groups
The legislation is endorsed by a number of groups, including the Recording Academy, SAG-AFTRA, and the American Federation of Musicians.
If passed, the bill could move a lot of money into the pockets of performers. According to the Recording Academy, when American music gets international airplay, other countries collect royalties for American artists, amounting to around $200 million every year. However, they “never pay those royalties because the U.S. does not reciprocate with our own performance right.”
Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA, argues that the money belongs to the artists.
“Broadcast companies profit from advertising sales because of the creative content musicians and singers record. It stands to reason that the performers who create the content deserve to be compensated just as songwriters are now,” Drescher said in a statement. “The reason it’s called the American Music Fairness Act is because the current situation is wholly unfair and it’s up to Congress to make it fair NOW!”
Last year, Representatives Steve Womack (R-AR) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced the Local Radio Freedom Act, a bill with essentially the opposite agenda. It aims to reserve radio’s royalty-free status. The American Music Fairness Act is being viewed as a counter-response to this bill.
Kanye West Says Catalog Is Potentially Being Sold Without His Permission: “Just Like Taylor Swift”
After Swift lost the rights to her life’s work, she took on the endeavor of re-recording her first six albums.
Kanye’s Catalog Potentially Up For Grabs
Following reports that Kanye West was considering selling his catalog, the artist took to Instagram on Tuesday to claim his work is potentially being sold without his approval.
On Monday, Billboard reported that West had been “quietly and intermittently shopping his publishing catalog.”
While the outlet’s sources did not reveal what price West was aiming for, Billboard estimated that West might be looking at a $175 million valuation for his discography. Some of Billboard’s sources seemingly suggested that West and his team were specifically behind the effort to sell his work, but others claimed the “catalog was never actively shopped” and instead, West had been receiving offers from potential buyers.
Not long after, several news outlets picked the story up and reported that West was gearing up to sell his catalog. West responded by writing on his Instagram story that this was not the case.
“Not For Sale”
“Just like Taylor Swift,” he said, referencing music mogul Scooter Braun purchasing Swift’s masters with Big Machine Records without her approval. “My publishing is being put up for my sale without my knowledge. Not for sale.”
Swift referred to the sale of her masters to Braun as her “worst case scenario.” In order to regain ownership of her work, she is in the process of re-recording her first six albums, all of which she originally made under Big Machine. Two have already been released and proved to be wildly commercially successful.
According to Forbes, it is unclear which of his albums West owns the masters to, if he owns any at all. Because of this, it is unknown what kind of position he would be put in if his catalog, which is currently managed by Sony, was sold.
The status of any potential for his work to be sold became foggier later on Tuesday when West shared screenshots of a text exchange he had. He asked an unidentified person what was happening with the catalog sale, and that person responded by calling it “fake news.”
“Of course every publisher wants to pitch [their] hardest buy, smh,” the text continued.
West did not further indicate if those texts were meant to clarify that his catalog was, in fact, not up for sale, or just further distance himself from any potential acquisition.
“Squid Game” Director Defends Reality Spinoff of Hit Series Amid Backlash
“When you take things too seriously, that’s really not the best way to go for the entertainment industry,” the Emmy-winner said.
“Squid Game” To Get Reality Treatment
Emmy Award-winning “Squid Game” director Hwang Dong-hyuk addressed the mounting backlash a reality spinoff of the popular series is facing while speaking to reporters at the Emmy Awards on Monday night.
“Squid Game” quickly became Netflix’s most-watched series following its release last fall. In a searing examination of capitalism and class division, the South Korean drama follows people who choose to compete in schoolyard-style games with life or death stakes in hopes of winning enough money to pay their debts off.
Over the summer, Netflix announced plans to make a reality series based on the games featured in the show called “Squid Game: The Challenge.” Just like in “Squid Game,” 456 contestants will compete for a prize of $4.56 million. Though in this case, losers will not be executed. Netflix is billing the program as “the biggest reality competition ever.”
The announcement of the show was met with swift backlash from those who felt a reality adaptation of these games missed the point of the original series. Some even argued it felt dystopian to have real people participate in a cash-grab game based on media meant to highlight the tragedies surrounding poverty and desperation.
Hwang Responds to Criticism
While speaking in the Emmy’s press room following a successful night for the breakout series, Hwang said he understood where some of the criticisms were coming from but defended the reality series.
“I think that even though our show does carry quite a heavy message — and I know that there are some concerns of taking that message and creating it into a reality show with a cash prize,” he said via Variety. “However, I feel like when you take things too seriously, that’s really not the best way to go for the entertainment industry. It doesn’t really set a great precedent.”
“I would say that reproductions of such efforts are going to bring new meaning to the industry, and I hope that this is going to be a great new direction for the industry overall,” the director continued.
“Squid Game” won six Emmy awards including Hwang’s trophy for Outstanding Directing For a Drama Series and Lee Jung-jae’s victory for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series.
No release date for “Squid Game: The Challenge” has been released yet, but it is set to film in the United Kingdom.