The MPAA has pulled together some interesting statistics on race and movie attendance that really ought to be getting more attention, especially in the context of Think Like a Man’s two-weekend long stretch atop the box office. White moviegoers buy more tickets than people of color simply by virtue of there being more white people than people of color. But people of color turn out to be somewhat more dedicated moviegoers than white folks.
Latinos make up 25 percent of moviegoers even though they’re only 16 percent of the population. The average Latino moviegoer makes it to 5.3 movies a year, compared to 3.7 movies per year for African Americans and 3.5 movies per year for white moviegoers.
I tend to end up pointing to the performance of movies with African American leads or diverse casts to point out that there’s an underserved market there, and I think that point remains true. But maybe an ancillary point is that African American moviegoers are, by a narrow margin, and Latino moviegoers are by a wide margin, more dedicated customers of Hollywood’s existing products than white audiences are, and their numbers are growing. You’d think Hollywood would want to hold on to those customers, and to recognize that the day is coming when those consumers’ preferences will be more important than the white consumers who no longer have either numerical superiority or proof that they’re more loyal customers. Nothing about the state of writers’ rooms and directors chairs suggest that movies are television are actively preparing for that eventuality. And I wonder how ready white entertainment consumers are for a day when pop culture doesn’t automatically reflect their faces because we no longer have the numbers or the proof of market power to expect that we be the default.