Graduation Year

2017

Date of Submission

12-2016

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Economics

Reader 1

David Bjerk

Reader 2

Roberto Pedace

Rights Information

© 2017 Zoe A. Pinczower

Abstract

Numerous U.S. studio executives claim that the lack of on-screen racial diversity is a result of producers responding to discriminatory racial preferences of international audiences. To test these claims, this paper augments prior film financial success models by introducing measures of cast diversity to quantify the impact that actor race has on film revenue in the domestic and international market. Using OLS regressions, I examine and compare this effect within the domestic and aggregate movie market to investigate the underlying motivations for producers to not cast nonwhite actors. The findings support the claims made by studio heads that, on the whole, films with greater levels of diversity significantly underperform in the international box office, yet are not a strong determinant for domestic consumption. Although producers may be making assumptions about foreign demand when investing in films, the revenue regressions seem to support their assumptions. However, the results are ultimately difficult to interpret. Holding budget and other key film characteristics constant, more diverse films perform poorly relative to less diverse films in foreign markets, so the demographic disparities in films could be mostly driven by rational, profit-maximizing behavior from studios and producers.

Comments

  • Robert Day School Prize for Best Senior Thesis in Economics and Finance

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