Research reveals impact of LGBTQ+ inclusion in cinema

Researchers from Monash University Australia have released the findings of extensive research into LGBTQ+ inclusion in films and what that means for audiences and the box office.

A team led by a Monash Business School researcher analysed 4216 contemporary Hollywood films from 2007 – 2014 and found that movies with LGBTQ+ inclusive representation significantly outperform those with no LGBTQ+ representation at the box office.

In a paper published in the Journal of Business Ethics, the research findings reveal that LGBTQ+ inclusive movies on average gained 29% more box office revenue than movies with no LGBTQ+ content.

With global box office revenue reaching $42 billion in 2019, researchers say LGBTQ+ inclusive films are not just good for social inclusion and social impact, they offer significant economic benefits to the global cinema industry too.

In addition, movies with LGBTQ+ themed representation such as A Single Man, The Kids Are All Right, perform equally as well as movies with no LGBTQ+ representation in more recent years.

“In analysing the films, we classified all movies into three categories, non-LGBT movies, LGBT-inclusive movies and LGBT-themed movies. LGBT-inclusive movies are those that include LGBT characters or plots but do not make them the main focus or theme of the movie,” says Yimin Cheng, Senior Lecturer from the Monash Business School.

“Our findings show that movies with LGBT-inclusive representation outperform those with no LGBT representation in terms of box office revenue. We also found that more recently, movies with LGBT-themed representation perform equally as well as non-LGBT movies.”

It is worth noting that while LGBTQ+ themed movies were not among the best performing films, their performance is continually improving.

“I hope our findings encourage more movies to add LGBT representation. Inclusiveness is the glue for a strong and prosperous society and visibility of minority groups is the first step of inclusiveness. Many movie producers might have long wished to promote LGBT inclusiveness, but they are also held accountable to their investors,” Cheng says.

“Our findings suggest that adding LGBT-inclusive representation increases a movie’s financial success in addition to its positive social impact, it’s a win-win situation.”

The full report is available here.

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