'Hidden Figures' Popularity Proves Diversity Sells

by Jordana Lipsitz
20th Century Fox

Whenever I write about women in the industry, specifically women of color, it feels like I'm in some bizarre loop. Over and over again it seems more and more obvious that content featuring minorities, women, and non-white dudes is what Americans want to see. And yet, great strides still need to be taken to show diversity in film, because the statistics look dire. For example, as NPR pointed out in February 2016, only one-third of speaking characters across all media were female. But on the great strides side of things, one movie about women of color has become the highest grossing Oscar nominee this year. Hidden Figures' popularity proves there is a hunger for films about those who don't identify as cis white males, so hopefully, that fact will be the catalyst for Hollywood to make even more of them.

Indiewire points out that Super Bowl weekend is typically not ideal for box office sales because for at least one day, everyone's too busy cheering on their favorite canines in the Puppy Bowl and eating vegan buffalo wings to head to the movies (That was just me? Oh, OK). However, despite these standard difficulties, Hidden Figures fell only 28 percent over the weekend while the Oscar nomination-heavy La La Land dropped 39 percent. Not only did Hidden Figures best the musical in this aspect, the total sales have also risen to $119 million to La La Land's $118 million and in less time. Sure, these numbers have something to do with the fact that the film was distributed to more theaters initially, but also has a lot to do with the content — a story of three African American women kicking science's butt by helping to launch a man into space.

Stories about white, cis men are all well and good, but we've been watching them and hearing them since people started writing down stories thousands of years ago. The time is long overdue for Hollywood to step up to the plate and give the people what they want. And clearly, they want diversity.

I'm hopeful that just like the real-life women Hidden Figures follows, Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson who boosted America into space — this film's success will boost America into a more diverse entertainment industry.

Editor’s Note: This article and its headline have been modified from their original versions.