News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by
Arts & Entertainment

It pays to have a diverse cast in Hollywood

Octavia Spencer stars as Dorothy Vaughan in "Hidden Figures."
Hopper Stone

Listen to story

Download this story 8MB

If filmmakers are looking to make more green, it pays to have more diversity on the silver screen.

That's the finding from a new report by the talent agency CAA that shows movies with diverse casts tend to perform better at the box office.

"The non-white audience represents a remarkably avid movie-going group," says Christy Haubegger, leader of CAA’s multicultural development group. "People of color, just like everybody else on the planet, like to see themselves represented on screen." 

Nearly half of tickets sold in the U.S. were to non-white people, she adds, so films with diverse casts have a greater potential to draw in those moviegoers.

To do the study, CAA looked back three years for films where at least 30 percent of the lead 10 characters were non-white.

It found that big movies, on average, made $67 million on opening weekend if it had a diverse cast. That's compared to $60 million for movies without one. 

That same trend was across the board, regardless of budget.

Haubegger adds that minority moviegoers represented big chunks of the audience for some of the top movies of the past few years – like "Finding Dory" and "Deadpool" – and are responsible for their success.

"Being able to show a diverse cast member actually expands the potential audience for the film," she says.

For CAA, this report is also a call to action for Hollywood – one that their own clients can benefit from.

"We're trying to change the motion picture landscape so that all kinds of artists have opportunities," says Haubegger.

Listen to the full interview by clicking the audio player above.