by Terry Shropshire
Special to the NNPA from the Michigan Chronicle
Hollywood, are you paying attention? Ethnically diverse casts produce record-breaking monster hits.
Take exhibit A, the just-released Furious 7, which set or neared records for the studio as well as the national and international box offices.
The Universal film opened to a franchise-best $384 million over the weekend at the global box office, including $143.6 million domestically — the biggest debut since The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in November 2013 ($158 million). More impressive, its global total was the fourth-best of all time.
According to Universal, 75 percent of the audience in North America was non-Caucasian, generally in line with previous installments.
Check out these stats:
- Hispanics, who have replaced blacks as the most frequent moviegoers in the United States, made up the majority of ticket buyers for Furious 7;
- Caucasians made up 25 percent;
- African-Americans (24 percent),
- Asians (10 percent)
- Others (4 percent).
“The importance of diversity of the ensemble cast in the Fast and Furious franchise has been an integral part of the success of the brand,” Rentrak box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian told industry publication Hollywood Reporter. “There is literally someone within the cast that is relatable on some level to nearly every moviegoer around the world, and this has paid big dividends at the box office and also in terms of how casting decisions will be made in the future for these types of large-scale action epics.”
Furious 7‘s ensemble cast includes Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, JasonStatham, Dwayne Johnson and, of course, the late Paul Walker. Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges, martial artist Tony Jaa and Djimon Hounsou also star.
“Someone that I admire quite a lot recently said this is a franchise that really looks like America, and there are characters that everyone can relate to. I think that’s a big plus,” said Universal president of domestic distribution Nicholas Carpou.