Flying below the high-profile summer superhero flicks and the latest blockbusters brought to you by Disney, one unexpected film is hanging on to the noteworthy title of “most profitable film of 2017” (thus far):
Jordan Peele’s “Get Out.”
“Get Out” wasn’t just critically acclaimed and beloved by audiences — it also raked in cash at the box office.
The horror flick, which brilliantly explores the nuances of race relations and racism in today’s America, brought in over $250 million in ticket sales around the world, a number that far surpasses its production budget of a mere $4.5 million.
The return on investment for “Get Out” stands at a staggering 630%, according to The Wrap, which considered overall budgets and box office results of the top-grossing films of 2017 for its analysis.
To be clear, “Get Out” isn’t the top-grossing film of 2017. That honor currently goes to “Beauty and the Beast,” which brought in $1.26 billion worldwide.
“Beauty and the Beast,” however, was created on a $160 million production budget and included a costly global marketing campaign. While its return on investment is still impressive, exceeding 400%, it pales in comparison to “Get Out.”
Should we be surprised by “Get Out” standing at No. 1?
On one hand, any film that can pull in those box office numbers from a budget that small deserves a round of applause.
On the other hand, the historic success of “Get Out” comes amid growing demands that Hollywood recognize and respond to the impressive financial feats of films featuring stories about people other than straight, white men.
Hollywood tends to see blockbusters led by women, people of color, and other marginalized groups as rare exceptions to the rule.
But in the past few years, evidence has shown that’s not really the case at all.
“Every time there’s a success [of a film with a mostly black cast], it gets swept under the rug,” Jeff Clanagan, president of Lionsgate’s Codeblack Films, told The Washington Post in regards to 2016’s “Moonlight.” “It’s almost like there’s an asterisk on it. They chalk it off as an anomaly.”
Last year, “Hidden Figures” — a film predominantly led by black women — was the highest-grossing Best Picture nominee at the Academy Awards. In July, “Girls Trip” (again, starring all women of color), exceeded box office expectations; it has pulled in over $76 million globally to date.
Audiences are hungrier than ever to see diverse stories on the big screen. Why isn’t Hollywood listening?
A new report by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism paints a bleak picture in terms of media representation across the highest-grossing films of 2016.
The report, which analyzed the demographics of speaking and named characters in the year’s 100 top films, found that marginalized groups — particularly women, racial minorities, and LGBTQ people — continue to be underrepresented. For Hispanic women and people with disabilities, the numbers were downright abysmal.
It’s not so much that audiences are choosing not to see films featuring these characters — it’s more that those movies aren’t being produced in the first place by a film industry overwhelmingly run by older straight white men.
“Diversity is not just something that just happens,” Katherine Pieper, a research scientist at USC, told the Associated Press of the study. “It’s something you have to think about and aim for as an objective and achieve.”
The data suggests studio execs would be wise to get out of their boxes and start making films for a more diverse audience. It’d pay off in more ways than one.