Outside the movie trade press, the ethnic demographics of movie audiences are seldom discussed. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the audience demographics for prestige films are hideously white, while the demographics of blockbusters are vibrant, which is pretty depressing when you think about our idiocratic future, and who wants to think about that?
Another reason is that the movie industry isn't in a hurry to point out the fact that their most enthusiastic fans are Hispanics, who aren't, although nobody mentions this, very cool.
From the MPAA on movie attendance:
And Hollywood does next to nothing for Hispanics in terms of employing them or making movies about them, and doesn't intend to start now.
The booming Chinese movie market is not interested in Mexican-Americans at all. For example, the recent sci-fi movie Looper was the first American film ever to open bigger in China than in America. It depicts an America in a generation with, seemingly, no Latinos. And nobody in China, apparently, missed them.
Back in the 1980s, you used to hear that African-Americans made up a quarter of the American market for movie tickets. That over-representation appears to have faded, as has most black momentum at making movies.
Blacks will still show up in large numbers for a black movie, like the biggest black-directed movie of 2012, the Steve Harvey self-help rom-com Think Like a Man, which made a highly profitable $91 million domestically. But that film, which I found quite enjoyable (it would likely make my Top Ten for 2012 along with 21 Jump Street, Savages, and maybe Get the Gringo, Safety Not Guaranteed, and The Master). It made absolutely no impression on white film enthusiasts as a whole. Patrick Goldstein reported in an article on its director, competent veteran Tim Story, who has made Barbershop and the Fantastic Four movies:
But [Tim Story is] still working at a disadvantage because he’s a black filmmaker at a time when the people who run today’s studios are overwhelmingly white and not especially well-versed or even particularly curious about African American culture. After “Think Like a Man” opened at No. 1, one studio president decided not to mention the film during the studio’s Monday morning production meeting, curious to see how long it would take to surface as a topic of conversation.
Fifteen minutes into the meeting, no one had mentioned the film. When the studio boss finally brought it up, asking who had seen it over the weekend, the room was silent. None of the all-white staff had bothered to go see it.
So, that leads us to Django Unchained. The official media controversy about the movie was whether blacks would boycott it due to writer-director Quentin Tarantino's frequent use of the "N-word." Because, as we all know, blacks never ever ever use that word, and no black entertainment product ever includes it.
Well -- what do you know? -- it turns out that black people like the N-word. From the Hollywood Reporter:
by Pamela McClintock
Debate over multiple uses of the N-word in "Django" doesn't appear to be dampening interest in the film.
Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained -- starring Jamie Foxx as a slave in the pre-Civil War South -- is doing strong business among African-American moviegoers.
This despite the fact that Django, from The Weinstein Co., features more than 100 uses of the N-word, igniting a debate over whether the movie is racially insensitive.
But much as Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds sanctified violence against Nazis, Django targets another bad guy nobody can sympathize with -- a slave owner.
A commenter pointed out that if Tarantino was really courageous, he would have made a movie about a black slave slaughtering Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
When Foxx's character is freed by a bounty hunter, played by Christoph Waltz, the duo go after Leonardo DiCaprio's character, the ruthless master of a plantation.
Opening on Christmas Day, 42 percent of Django's initial audience was black, according to exit polling data. TWC estimates that the percentage now is holding steady at about 30 percent, while a look at the top-performing theaters for Django further confirms that it has crossed over, playing to both white and black moviegoers.
Django has grossed $77.8 million so far in North America and has a strong shot at becoming Tarantino's most successful film at the domestic box office, eclipsing the $120 million earned by Inglourious Basterds in 2009. ...
Of Django's top 10-grossing theaters, three cater heavily to African-Americans: The Cinemark Egyptian 24 in Baltimore, the AMC Hoffman Center in Alexandria, Va., and the AMC Southlake 24 in Atlanta. And another three draw a mixed audience, including the AMC Empire 25 in New York City and the Regal Atlantic Stadium 16 in Atlanta.
I wonder whether blacks showed up for Inglourious Basterds? In my experience, Mexicans didn't show up for either IB or DU.
Other top 10 theaters for Django include AMC Regal Union Square in New York City and the ArcLight in Sherman Oaks.
The ArcLight in Sherman Oaks, by the way, is horrible, The walk from the parking garage to the theater is inexplicably soul-crushing, the tickets are $14.75, and if you show up during the previews, they won't let you in.
While these locations nearly always make the list of top-grossing theaters for any given film, the Egyptian and Hoffman Center don't as a rule pop up unless a movie crosses over, such as The Blind Side.
For example, none of the top 10 theaters for Django's fellow holiday releases The Hobbit: An Unepexpected Journey or Les Miserables are in heavily black communities.
There's no racial breakdown for the recent Denzel Washington drama Flight, though the Egyptian was the only black theater making the top 10 list.
Conversely, Foxx's Ray, released in 2004, played to a predominately black audience. ...
Just before Christmas, Spike Lee publicly chastised Tarantino for being "disrespectful" of black poeple and called for a boycott of Django.
A black person commented on the Hollywood Reporter article:
While whites are busy getting offended on our behalf, they miss completely why we are going to see this film. It's a bIack man kiIIings white people in masses. I will pay to see that every time.
I've seen this film 3 times so far and am going again Saturday night. It's an awesome movie.