Study: Diverse audiences drive blockbuster films

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UCLA's annual study on diversity in the entertainment industry finds minorities account for large portion of ticket purchases. (KABC)

With the Academy Awards a few days away, UCLA has released its annual study on diversity in the entertainment industry.

The study analyzed the trends seen in the top 200 films of 2016 and found people of color accounted for the majority of ticket buyers for five of the top 10 films at the global box office for that year.

The study also found that films with casts that were 21 to 30 percent minority regularly performed better at movie theaters than films with the most racially and ethnically homogenous casts.

The recent financial success of Marvel's "Black Panther" underscores the study's findings. The film features a predominantly black cast and has held the No.1 spot in U.S. theaters for the last two weeks since its nationwide debut, and has earned $700 million worldwide.

The study, called "Hollywood Diversity: Five Years of Progress and Missed Opportunities," acknowledged the achievements of the movie "Moonlight" and award-winning performances of Viola Davis and Donald Glover, but also highlighted the lack of diversity in other areas of the entertainment industry.

When the study looked at employees behind the camera, minorities made up only eight percent of film writers in 2016.

"Unfortunately, the industry has been much slower to accept the related truth that its success in providing today's (and tomorrow's) audiences with what they crave also hinges on the presence of diverse talent behind the camera -- in the director's chair, in the writers' room, and in executive suites," the study said.

Two years ago, the #OscarsSoWhite controversy drew criticism over the lack of racial diversity in the industry. The controversy led the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to invite a more diverse membership to the Academy.

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