And the Oscar goes to... LGBTQI+ inclusion

As Hollywood rolls out the red carpet and our biggest stars come together to celebrate 94th Academy Awards , researchers from Monash University Australia have released the findings of extensive research into LGBTQI+ inclusion in films and what it means at the box office.

A team led by a Monash Business School researcher analysed 4216 contemporary Hollywood films from 2007-2014 and found that movies with LGBTQI+ representation significantly outperform those with no representation at the box office.

In a paper published in the Journal of Business Ethics, the research findings reveal that LGBTQI+ inclusive movies on average gained a staggering 29 percent more box office revenue than movies with no LGBTQI+ content.

With global box office revenue reaching $42 billion in 2019, this means LGBTQI+ inclusive films are not just good for social inclusion and positive social impact, they offer significant economic benefits to the global cinema industry too.

In addition, movies with LGBTQI+ themes such as A Single Man, The Kids Are All Right, perform equally as well as movies with no representation in more recent years.

"In analysing the films, we classified all movies into three categories, non-LGBTQI+ movies, LGBTQI+ inclusive movies and LGBTQI+ themed movies. LGBTQI+ inclusive movies are those that include LGBTQI+ characters or plots but do not make them the main focus or theme of the movie," says Yimin Cheng, Senior Lecturer from the Monash Business School.

"Our findings show that movies with LGBTQI+ inclusive representation outperform those with no LGBTQI+ representation in terms of box office revenue. We also found that more recently, movies with LGBTQI+ themed representation perform equally as well as non-LGBTQI+ movies."

Whilst it is worth noting that LGBTQI+ themed movies were not the best performing films, their performance is continually improving.

"I hope our findings encourage more movies to add LGBTQI+ representation. Inclusiveness is the glue for a strong and prosperous society and visibility of minority groups is the first step of inclusiveness. Many movie producers might have long wished to promote inclusiveness, but they are also held accountable to their investors," Cheng says.

"Our findings suggest that adding LGBTQI+ representation increases a movie’s financial success in addition to its positive social impact, it’s a win-win situation."

LGBT-Inclusive Representation in Entertainment Products and Its Market Response: Evidence from Field and Lab (springer.com)

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