It’s more than evident that awards shows need to play catch up. In a new study released by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, 2019 was a banner year for inclusion among leading characters in popular film.
Across the top 100 grossing films of 2019, 31 films had a lead or co-lead from an underrepresented group and 16 films had a lead or co-lead actor who was female.
2019 also represented a 13 year high for women in that 43 of the top 100 films had a female lead or co-lead.
“It is clear that Hollywood is taking steps to create more inclusive stories and that those films are connecting with audiences,” said USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative founder Dr. Stacy L. Smith. “Yet, there is also a very obvious disconnect between what sells tickets and what garners awards points to a systemic bias at cultural institutions like the BAFTAs or the Academy Awards. After another year in which the major studios increased their output of films with female and underrepresented leads or co-leads, it is critical to recognize that talent is not limited by gender or race/ethnicity.”
Walt Disney Studios was the distributor with the largest box office earnings for the top 2019 movies with female or underrepresented leads and co-lead, accruing over $6.8 billion. The studio earned $4.1 billion for its content led by women and $2.7 billion for its films with underrepresented leads/co-leads. Coming in second place was Universal Pictures, followed by 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures.