Study: Movie Viewers Want to See Themselves Reflected Onscreen

Movie viewers want to see themselves reflected on the screen, according to a new study from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and data analytics firm Movio.

Moviegoers being able to identify with the characters in a movie drives their attendance behavior, the study found. When there are characters of a certain cohort (group), this is likely to drive more moviegoers of the same cohort. The analysis shows across all films that the leading characters and audience are generally 50-50 female/male. In 2007, only 23% of leads were female, and in 2017 30% were female. The more female characters, the more female the audience, and the more male characters, the more male the audience. The effect of genre on the percentage of leading characters male versus female was clear, according to the study authors, as well as the corresponding gender split in the attending audience. Action movies, most notably, regularly have well over 50% male characters and well over 50% (and frequently over 60%) male audience.

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The opportunity for Black, Asian and Latinx moviegoers to see themselves represented on screen is significantly lower than for white moviegoers. Several movies tally 100% of their characters as White with the majority having over 50% white characters. For the remaining four race/ethnicity groups, the majority of films are clustered at below 25% (if not 0%) representation on screen. This is significant considering people of color (Black, Asian and Latinx) comprise 37.8% of the U.S. population, the study noted. Across the board in terms of ethnicity, gender, and age, the negative portrayal of characters from a certain group has little bearing on whether or not that group attends a movie. However, particularly with regard to race and ethnicity, the analysis again shows how minority audiences are given substantially fewer opportunities to even see characters from their racial or ethnic group on the screen, no less characters from their racial or ethnic group who are also not depicted negatively.

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The research was also able to determine what demographic cohorts are being represented in films geared primarily towards children. Both male and female leads are roughly evenly split in terms of on-screen representation for films with more child visits, suggesting that young moviegoers are getting a fairly balanced representation of genders in their on-screen media consumption. However, when looking at race/ethnicity there is less of a balanced representation. White characters are very well represented in children’s films, with the majority of films having 50% or more White characters represented on screen. There is not the same level of representation for Asian or Latinx characters in children’s media as the vast majority of films moviegoers are bringing their children to see have no representation of these cohorts. For example, of all the titles analyzed, only six titles had over 18% Latinx characters, despite Latinx comprising 18.4% of the U.S. population.

Data scientists at both organizations examined the following questions for the “I Want to See Me: Why Diverse On-Screen Representation Drives Cinema Audiences” white paper:

  • Does the presence of certain groups (Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Age) on-screen draw larger numbers of the corresponding audience?
  • What negative or positive portrayals of certain groups are different viewers seeing in the most popular films?
  • What portrayals of certain groups are child viewers seeing in the most popular films?

 

On-screen data (the Institute) and audience demographic data (Movio) for the top 100 films (by box office) in the United States were examined for 2018 and 2019.

“As we’ve said before, our goal is very simple: that the characters on screen reflect the population, which is half Female and incredibly diverse,” Geena Davis, founder and chair of the institute, said in a statement. “We know that increasing the presence of underrepresented groups in media can have a very powerful impact on shifting cultural perceptions. Our industry has a tremendous opportunity to foster inclusion in society by taking action to diversify who shows up on screen. As this new research shows, we have made progress, but we need to do better.”

“As the movie industry begins to recover from the effects of the pandemic, this research carries even more weight,” William Palmer, chief executive and co-founder of Movio, said in a statement. “Diverse audiences can go elsewhere to find entertainment options that speak to them and their lives, so if cinema is to remain relevant and continue having a cultural impact, it must attract these audiences by delivering more representative content.”

“When we consider the impact that the media children are exposed to can have, including in the cinema, it is vital for them to see from the beginning that fictitious worlds reflect the real world, and that they see themselves reflected on screen,” Davis added. “When you see someone like yourself reflected, you take in the message: ‘There’s someone like me, I must belong.’ It’s encouraging to see the progress we’ve made with gender representation, but we must show more diversity on screen, if we don’t show more diversity, we are contributing to the serious problem of racial inequity in our society today.”

Scream Factory Releasing ‘The Fly’ Blu-ray Collection

Scream Factory, the horror imprint of indie distributor Shout! Factory, will release The Fly Collection on Blu-ray Dec. 10. The five-disc set includes the trilogy based on the 1958 original The Fly, plus the 1986 remake and its sequel.

The original film stars Vincent Price as the brother of a scientist whose experiments in creating a matter transporter accidentally swap his head with that of a fly. In 1959’s Return of the Fly (1959), the son of the first scientist continues his father’s work. In 1965’s The Curse of the Fly, a woman marrys into the family of scientists and learns about the horrible side effects of their experiments.

The 1986 remake directed by David Cronenberg stars Jeff Goldblum as Seth Brundle, the scientist whose experiments in teleportation merge his DNA with that of a fly, causing him to transform into a human-fly hybrid to the horror of the journalist (Geena Davis) chronicling his work. Its 1989 sequel, The Fly II, stars Eric Stoltz as Seth’s son, who continues his father’s efforts.

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With the exception of the 1986 version, this set represents of the first Blu-ray release of the films in North America.

The complete list of bonus features includes a bevy of new interviews and audio commentaries with cast and crew on each film, plus legacy bonus material.

Extras on the 1958 version of The Fly include:

  • A new audio commentary with author/film historian Steve Haberman and filmmaker/film historian Constantine Nasr;
  • Audio commentary with actor David Hedison and film historian David Del Valle;
  • “Biography: Vincent Price”;
  • “Fly Trap: Catching a Classic”;
  • Fox Movietone News;
  • Theatrical trailer.

 

Return of the Fly extras:

  • New audio commentary with actor David Frankham;
  • New audio commentary with author/film historian Tom Weaver;
  • New audio commentary with actor Brett Halsey and film historian David Del Valle;
  • Theatrical Trailer;
  • TV spot;
  • Still gallery.

 

The Curse of the Fly extras:

  • New audio commentary with author/film historian Steve Haberman and filmmaker/film historian Constantine Nasr;
  • New interview with actress Mary Manson;
  • New interview with continuity checker Renee Glynee;
  • Theatrical Trailer;
  • TV spot;
  • Still gallery.

 

Extras on the 1986 version include:

  • New audio commentary with author/film historian William Beard;
  • “The Meshuggener Scientist” — a new interview with executive producer Mel Brooks;
  • “Beauty and the Beast” — a new interview with producer Stuart Cornfeld;
  • “A Tragic Opera” — a new interview with composer Howard Shore;
  • “David’s Eyes” — a new interview with cinematographer Mark Irwin;
  • New interview with casting director Deirdre Bowen;
  • Audio commentary with director David Cronenberg
  • “Fear of the Flesh: The Making of The Fly” — covering all three stages of the production — Larva, Pupa and Metamorphosis;
  • “The Brundle Museum of Natural History” with Chris Walas and Bob Burns;
  • Deleted scenes with storyboard and script versions;
  • Extended scenes;
  • An alternate ending;
  • Test footage (main titles, lighting and makeup effects);
  • Vintage featurette/profile on David Cronenberg;
  • Still galleries (publicity, behind-the-scenes, concept art and visual effects);
  • Theatrical trailers;
  • TV spots;
  • George Langelaan’s short story;
  • Charles Edward Pouge’s original screenplay;
  • David Cronenberg’s screenplay rewrite;
  • Magazine articles with photos and video;
  • A trivia track;
  • Two Easter eggs.

 

The Fly II extras:

  • “Fly in the Ointment” — a new interview with producer Stuart Cornfeld;
  • “Original Visions” — a new interview with screenwriter Mick Garris;
  • “Version 2.0” — a new interview with screenwriter Ken Wheat;
  • “Big and Gothic” — a new interview with composer Christopher Young;
  • “Pretty Fly for A Fly Guy” — a new interview with special effects artist Tom Sullivan;
  • New interview with cinematographer Robin Vidgeon;
  • Interview with director Chris Walas;
  • Interview with producer Steven-Charles Jaffe;
  • Audio commentary with director Chris Walas and film historian Bob Burns;
  • “Transformations: Looking Back at The Fly II”;
  • “The Fly Papers: The Buzz on Hollywood’s Scariest Insect”;
  • Video Production Journal — a behind-the-scenes look at the special effects;
  • Composer’s Master Class: Christopher Young;
  • Storyboard-to-film comparisons with optional commentary by director Chris Walas;
  • Vintage featurette;
  • Extended press kit Interviews with Eric Stoltz, Daphne Zuniga and Chris Walas;
  • An alternate ending;
  • A deleted scene;
  • Teaser trailer;
  • Theatrical trailer;
  • Still gallery;
  • Storyboard gallery.

 

DEG Seeks Nominees for Second Hedy Lamarr Innovation Award

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group is soliciting nominations for the second annual “Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology,” which recognizes female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology who have made a significant contribution to the industry.

The deadline for submissions is Feb. 15. A nomination form can be downloaded here.

The second annual Hedy Lamarr Awards will be presented in November 2018, to coincide with the 104th anniversary of Hedy Lamarr’s birth.

The inaugural Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology was presented in November 2017 to Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, in Santa Monica, Calif.

Austrian-American actress Hedy Lamarr was a Hollywood legend who is best remembered for her roles in a number of film classics, including Samson and Delilah, The Strange Woman, and Tortilla Flat. She was also a lifelong inventor whose innovative work included pioneering “frequency hopping,” which became the foundation for spread spectrum technology.

Conceived by Lamarr and composer George Antheil for radio guidance systems and patented in 1942, this highly secure technology resists interference and dropout, and is utilized today for a variety of cellular, WiFi and Bluetooth applications.

To honor Lamarr, the Innovation Award seeks to recognize and commemorate women industry leaders that have made a similar impact in the field of entertainment technology.