Last year, 70% of theatrical revenue came from overseas markets. Hispanics — who represent 17% of the U.S. population — bought one out of every four movie tickets in this country. And in 2013, minorities made up 46% of U.S. moviegoing audiences.
Universal was one of the first studios to establish a marketing team dedicated to multicultural audiences. In the process, this team has helped sharpen our approach to diverse entertainment content.
"We want to put out an invitation, one that’s culturally relevant and organic to the way our audiences consume their media," says Fabian Castro, Senior Vice President of Multicultural Marketing at Universal Pictures. "And at the very heart of the stories we deliver is a commitment to including diverse voices."
Fabian leads this team, whose marketing efforts are geared toward not only attracting multicultural viewers, but also promoting diverse content and talent in our movies. "Many of our films actually help to define popular culture," he says. "And when that’s the case, they need to tell stories that reflect and identify with our diverse audiences."
Creating with diversity
The broad appeal of the Fast & Furious film franchise is a high-profile example of how culture and creative forces can align. In 2013, Fast & Furious 6 grossed more than $788 million worldwide, driving strong attendance across all demographics. The incredibly diverse Fast & Furious "family" features strong male and female characters across ethnicities in lead roles, ensuring the audience can see themselves in the story.
Making films that appeal to a rapidly growing multicultural audience — in the United States and around the world — requires authentic storytelling that reflects moviegoers’ experiences. To capture these ideas authentically, we champion diversity behind the camera through partnerships with minority filmmakers and by cultivating opportunities for emerging minority screenwriters to gain invaluable experience in the industry.
In 2014, Universal Pictures launched a partnership with prominent African American filmmaker Will Packer following a successful collaboration on Ride Along. A sequel to Ride Along is due in 2016.
Also last year, we released Get on Up, a biopic about legendary entertainer James Brown. In August 2015, we will release Straight Outta Compton — produced by Dr. Dre and Ice Cube — about N.W.A, a seminal group of the Southern California rap scene in the 1980s. In 2016, director Malcolm D. Lee will bring back a homegrown Universal Pictures hit series with the release of The Best Man Wedding.
"The multicultural audience keeps on getting stronger and stronger, to the point where diverse moviegoers actually are our mainstream audience," says Fabian. "That creates a lot of exciting opportunities, not just in how we market films but also in how we produce that content and have unique voices telling the stories."