People of Color Directed Fewer Than 10 Percent of the Last Decade’s Top-Grossing Films, Report Shows

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2015 National Board Of Review Gala
Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative have assembled a study called Inclusion in the Director’s Chair? that examines race, gender, and age diversity of directors across 1,000 surveyed films released in the past ten years. Based on data drawn from looking at the top 100 grossing films each year from 2007 to 2016, only 5.6 percent of those movies were led by a black director. Of the major studios, Lionsgate fared the best, with black directors helming 16 of its 86 qualifying movies (18 percent). On the opposite end of the spectrum, Disney fared the worst. With 101 films in the sample size, none were directed by a black person, making it the only big studio to put up a disappointing donut, though they did have one of the higher numbers when it came to hiring Asian directors with a staggering four (it should also be noted that the studio does have two upcoming projects from black directors in the works: Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time and Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther). In total, Asian directors accounted for just 3.3 percent of the top 1,000 films, and similarly dismal numbers were reported earlier today regarding female film direction. Of the 1,114 people who directed the top-grossing fictional films over the past decade, 4.4 percent were women. Data was not available to track the number of Latino directors or those of Middle Eastern descent, but the reasonable deduction lands on underrepresentation.

Report: Studios Rarely Hire Directors of Color