Hollywood has been producing movies that showcase black directors or cast. However, much like ‘The Butler’ and ’12 Years a Slave’, they have one thing in common. They grappled to find financing from the top movie studios and had to rely on independent producers or black investors. At times, they also took the help of crowd-funding to make these movies.
Even with the evolving demographics, the powerful leaders of the entertainment industry have been dawdling with an increasing demand for movies reflecting racial and cultural shifts.
Minorities constitute over 36% of the US population, but only 10% are represented as lead characters in the movies. Just 12% of them sat in the director’s chair as per the data of 2011.
The lack of diversity amidst decision-makers is the primary reason behind big studios hardly investing in films being made and starred by minorities. The declining box office sales in the USA have made Hollywood executives argue that movies that star minorities or address racial issues are difficult to sell in the foreign markets where they can see considerable growth in the industry. However, 12 Years a Slave had been a hit overseas, with 70% of the sales generated in foreign countries.
The problem is partly due to the exceptionally insular industry. The ones responsible for giving the projects a green-light aren’t surrounded by people from the minorities. However, with time, it’s getting difficult for these people to pretend a demographic earthquake isn’t happening. However, this isn’t sustainable. In time to come, movies have to be made that everyone including the minorities, would like to see.
Reluctance of Hollywood
Many a time directors with minority star movies look for financing but failing to get one caused the movies to be stalled. Selma was to be released on 2014 Christmas. It had received a nomination for best director and picture in the Golden Globe. However, this movie that was to dramatize the work of Martin Luther King Jr. almost did not get made.
Since 2007 the original script was passing around, and no major studio was ready to fund it. Thereafter, the small production company of Brad Pitt and some French investors financed it with a small budget in 2008. It had to struggle with changing directors and financing. Only when Oprah Winfrey stepped that the project was successfully developed with her financial backing.
Big movie studios are afraid to fund movies that will not bring them to profit overseas. The films that deal with black casts do not usually resonate with foreign audiences.
Forcing a Change
With time, the gap between the general popular and Hollywood is increase and countries have started making diverse movies. But entertainment is not making any progress. The minorities, especially Latinos, are the rapidly growing film audience. They constitute 44% of the country’s most avid film watchers. Blacks also form a huge portion of the
movie market. They record 195 million visits to the theatres in the year 2011. Thus, major studios are taking steps to appeal to the diverse set of audiences. Some changes are quite apparent in the TV world.