The Five Lies Hollywood Tells Itself

We’re heading into blockbuster season, long designed to part young men with their money using male heroics, computerized wizardry and the requisite side babes. But in a sign that slow-to-react movie studios are betting there’s lucre in catering to a wider array of audiences — something television has known for a while — the summer of 2017 is bringing alternates to tried and tired formulas, with the likes of “Wonder Woman,” starring Gal Gadot; “Atomic Blonde,” with Charlize Theron; and the Tupac Shakur biopic, “All Eyez on Me,” with Demetrius Shipp Jr. in the lead.

There’s ample proof that diversity pays off. Women represent over half of moviegoers, and the Motion Picture Association of America has found the number of African-American, Hispanic and Asian regular moviegoers are on the rise, while the number of frequent white moviegoers is declining. “You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in major positions today in Hollywood that would dispute diversity is good for the bottom line,” said Darnell Hunt, a sociology and African-American studies professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “The question is how do we achieve that, and that is where the inertia lies.”

Here are a few box-office myths that could stand to be updated, if not done away with outright.

Myth No. 1:
Films starring black or minority
performers don’t sell overseas.

A scene from “Straight Outta Compton.”CreditJaimie Trueblood/Universal Pictures

Hollywood insiders repeatedly, if not quite publicly, brought up this supposed truism during the #OscarsSoWhite uproar. Trouble is, they’re increasingly being proven wrong. “Hidden Figures,” which starred three black actresses, has collected $60 million abroad (for a $229 million total); “Straight Outta Compton” pulled in $40 million overseas (on top of $161 million domestically); “Moonlight,” the Oscar winner made for $1.5 million, has taken in some $53 million — with nearly half…

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