Superheroes, Women, and POC Won the 2017 Box Office
The myth that audiences “just won’t show up” for more diverse movies is slowly, finally dying, and the 2017 box office results should hopefully hammer yet another nail in that coffin. While overall ticket revenue is down about 2.5% from last year’s, the Top 10 list for the domestic market reveals that nerds, women, and POC (and most especially those of you who are all three) will inherit the Earth.
The #1 film of the year at the U.S. box office was the shamelessly girly Beauty and the Beast, a live-action, musical adaptation of an animated romance. The wonderfully diverse Star Wars: The Last Jedi only just unseated Wonder Woman, the first female-led superhero movie of the modern era, as the #2 film. The rest of the Top Ten are mostly ensemble superhero flicks like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming, alongside diverse franchises like The Fate of the Furious.
Below is Box Office Mojo‘s full list of the top ten domestic box office grosses of 2017.
- Beauty and the Beast
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi
- Wonder Woman
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Despicable Me 3
- The Fate of the Furious
Now, these are only the current numbers, and there are still a few days left in 2017. We could see some films move up or down in the rankings as the final totals come in. But looking over the casts of these films, I’m struck by how they all–despite their flaws and problematic elements–used diverse casts to tell more interesting stories. From Rose and Finn’s exploration of war, to breakout characters like Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, to the role that X-23/Laura played in Logan, to the way Spider-Man: Homecoming nailed its sense of place with an actually-looks-like-New-York cast of young POC, to even the way that Despicable Me 3 flips the supervillain script by making Gru a sentimental dad of three daughters, many of these films told newer, fresher versions of the old stories, powered by more diverse casts.
Diversity was also evident behind the camera in a number of these films. In directing Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins made history as the first woman to direct a film with a $100 million budget. While helming Thor: Ragnarok, half-Maori director Taiki Waititi ensured indigenous representation both on- and off-screen. Lucasfilm’s Star Wars story group is comprised of four women and seven men, and five of those 11 are people of color.
Obviously, a lot of factors go into the success of a film: the strength of the brand recognition, the quality of the screenplay, the vision of the director, the artistry of the visual effects, the marketing budget from the studio. A more representative cast and crew can’t do all the work, and art is subjective. But despite all the franchise fatigue and failed “shared universe” attempts this year, I’m more excited than ever about the future of film storytelling when I look at the ways it’s changing for the better.
(Via Deadline; image: Marvel Studios)
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