There is still a long road to be traveled when it comes to providing representation that isn’t just straight white males in front of and behind the camera for genre films. In the last couple of years, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Warner Bros. and others have made a splash on that front with Wonder Woman and Black Panther.
Both films have gotten critical, audience and box office support and have proven that audiences will turn out en masse to diverse films if those films are an option. Both of them being fantastic films.
Audiences are chomping at the bit for more of these offerings, and so too apparently are movie theaters.
Speaking with Variety, National Association of Theatre Owners head John Fithian noted that these films along with Star Wars: The Force Awakens & The Last Jedi and others have proven wrong the given ideas that big blockbuster films have to come out in summer and that audiences don’t want diverse films that appeal to a broader and wider audience.
“Theater owners have been asking for more diversity in movies for a long time, and by diversity, we mean diversity in casting and diversity in times of the year when movies are released. The traditional norm is that big movies only go in the summer and winter holiday. Black Panther proves if you’re good, people will come out and see you any time of the year. It also shows that a movie with an all-black cast and a black director can break records. It’s not the race or the sex of the actors in a movie, it’s the quality of the movie that matters.”
While Fithian’s motives for more of these films that bring in a bigger audience are likely partly financially based, as more people seeing these films means more money for the theaters along with studios, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s right. The system has been turned upside down the last few years proving that if movies are put out that appeal to people on a wider spectrum, audiences will go see them no matter what time of year they debut in.
More of these films that bring in people that might not otherwise have been going to these genre films works out for everyone. It gives more representation within Hollywood, something greatly needed, and it helps movie theaters thrive after a handful of years where things were up and down for studios and theaters alike with box offices.
So far the train of these diverse genre films is going to continue with Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman 2 and Star Wars: Episode IX to name just a few on the film slate. Just Marvel and Warner Bros. alone have a wide swath of diverse comic book characters to pull from to start making films that will appeal to even more audiences.
In the end, the more diverse films that we have the more we all win.