Baylor Expert Re: Movies Featuring Actors of Color: Hollywood Leaves "Great Deal of Money on the Table"October 17, 20172 min read
Movies like “Marshall” that are built around actors of color (Chadwick Boseman plays the iconic attorney) and have appeal to consumers of color historically see a significant surge in ticket sales in weeks five through eight – if producers are willing to keep them in theaters that long and allow for word-of-mouth advertising to build, said Tyrha Lindsey-Warren, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of marketing in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business. She studies consumer behavior, multicultural media, movies and entertainment.
“I believe that Hollywood often pulls movies starring women and actors of color out of the theaters way too soon and before word-of-mouth has time to fully spread,” Lindsey-Warren said. “In my opinion, and according to our studies, Hollywood is leaving a great deal of money on the table.”
Movies built around actors of color typically make money – in many cases as much or more than five times the budget, she said. For example, the 2017 comedy “Girls Trip,” which was built around four African-American female leads, was made for $19 million and has grossed more than $100 million at the box office.
A challenge, Lindsey-Warren said, is that Hollywood expects to make its money back in the opening weekend. That strategy often doesn’t translate well to consumers of color.
She cited a Nielsen study that showed African-Americans make an average 6.3 trips every year to see movies, and they tend to strongly support movies where there are characters like themselves and to whom they can relate. But they don’t rush to theaters for premier weekends.
“Historically, African-American consumers have not been such early adopters of seeing movies on opening weekend and have typically waited to hear from trusted sources, by way of word-of-mouth, if the movie is worth seeing,” she said. “I call this behavior giving word-of-mouth time to spread. These are insights that Hollywood has not fully embraced regarding consumers of color and for movies built around actors of color.”
Tyrha Lindsey-Warren Clinical Assistant Professor of Marketing
Dr. Tyrha Lindsey-Warren studies consumer behavior and attitudes, multicultural media & advertising, movies and entertainment