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Photo: Jeff Spicer / FilmImage

As Marvel's "Black Panther" continues to break box office records worldwide in its first two weeks of release, a new diversity study from UCLA's Bunche Center reveals that minorities are leading the charge behind the biggest blockbuster hits.

"Diversity sells, and for the past five years, we've seen that all audiences, regardless of race, want to see diversity on-screen. They prefer movies that have diverse casts, and they prefer to watch TV that has diversity as well."
— Ana-Christina Ramón, who wrote the report with Darnell Hunt, to the LA Times

Key finding: UCLA's research shows that people of color "accounted for the majority of ticket buyers for five of the top 10 films at the global box office, and half of ticket buyers for two more of the top 10," according to the AP.

Yes, but: Despite minorities coming out in big numbers and driving movie records, they are still severely underrepresented in the entertainment industry, especially considering they represented 40% of the U.S. population in 2016.

  • Only 13.9% the year's film leads were people of color, 12.65% were directors, and 8.1% were writers. On TV, minorities accounted for 18.7% of broadcast scripted leads, 20.2% of cable scripted leads, and 12.9% of digital series leads.

Other findings from the study, which evaluated the top 200 theatrical films released in 2016 and 1,251 broadcast, cable and digital platform television shows from the 2015-16 season:

  • Films with casts that were 21% to 30% minority performed better at the box office, than those with the most racially and ethnically homogenous casts.
  • Median viewer ratings (18-49) peaked during the 2015-16 season for broadcast scripted shows with casts that were greater than 20% minority.
  • Women, relative to their male counterparts, posted gains in all areas except four this year. But, as roughly 50% of the population, women are still underrepresented on every front: film leads (31.2%), film directors (6.9%), film writers (13.8%), broadcast scripted leads (35.7%) and cable scripted leads (44.8%).

The bottom line: “There is still a long way to go before women or people of color reach proportionate representation among the actors in film and television, but at least the trend lines for both groups point in the right direction,” the report added.

Go deeper

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

2 hours ago - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to form team to solve consulate dispute

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right) meet in Washington. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel are planning to form a joint team to hold discreet negotiations on the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: The consulate handled relations with the Palestinians for 25 years before being shut down by then President Donald Trump in 2019. Senior officials in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government see the consulate issue as a political hot potato that could destabilize their unwieldy coalition.