Authentic cultural portrayals on films lead to increased box office revenue, study finds


Movies can earn better reviews and millions more at the box office, if their cultural depictions are authentic and free from stereotypes, according to a new report from the University of California, Los Angeles and the Creative Artists Agency.

The joint study, led by UCLA’s Center for Scholars and Storytellers and CAA’s Full Story Initiative, investigated the impact of authentic inclusive representation (quantified as AIR scores) on box performance. -office and critical and public reception. The study found that each increase in AIR points meant an $18.8 million increase in revenue for films with budgets of $159 million and above. In total, big-budget films could earn an additional $75.2 million by increasing their AIR scores, and audiences and critics responded more favorably to studio films with higher AIR scores.

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“These results are consistent with what our industry has known for years – authentic and inclusive representation drives our communities and businesses forward,” said Ruben Garcia, director and co-head of cultural business strategy at CAA. “We remain committed to using our place within the industry to inspire storytellers and industry partners to center inclusion in their work and elevate conversations around the positive impact of AIR.”

AIR scores can be improved through casting, creative teams, and storytelling. The study also found that films from 2015 to 2019 had better representation scores overall than films from the first half of the decade.

“As our nation continues to diversify, we felt it was important to examine how movies reflect the world we live in,” said Dr. Yalda Uhls, founding director of the Center for Scholars & Storytellers at the ‘UCLA. “People of color currently make up over 50% of the under-18 box office audience. Of course, they want to see themselves accurately reflected and represented.”

To view a full copy of the FSI AIR study, which includes more details on the methodology used and subsequent calls to action, visit

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