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African-American movie attendance hit a new high mark in 2013, a year when several black-themed films were released, including the year’s Oscar winner for best picture, “12 Years a Slave.”
The Motion Picture Association of America estimates that African-Americans attended the movies 170 million times in 2013, a 13-percent increase from the year before and the first significant bump since 2009, according to the Hollywood reporter.
MPAA chairman/president John Fithian attributed the jump to a diverse slate of films, including a proliferation of titles featuring African-American themes and stars, according to The Grio.
In addition to the story of former slave Solomon Northrup, “The Butler,” “The Best Man Holiday” and “42,” all fared well in 2013, leading many to dub it the “Year of Black Film.” “The Butler” had the star power of Academy Award winners Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey in a story of a legendary White House butler that served numerous presidents over his time at the elbow of those in power.
“42,” the epic story of Jackie Robinson, the baseball player that broke the color barrier in baseball, also contributed to the benchmark sales figures among blacks.
Despite the banner year, Latinos account for the largest portion of box office receipts of any group. They account for 25 percent of all ticket sales, the Reporter stated.
“Last year, I addressed the need to appeal to diverse audiences. Here again, we see progress. The year 2013 in the U.S. brought the highest-grossing Spanish-language movie of all time with “Instructions Not Included.” Perhaps even more telling, more movies in 2013 featured more black actors in important roles that drove more patrons to the theaters. That’s why we saw substantial growth in movie-going for African-Americans and other minorities,” Fithian said during his annual speech at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, where theater owners are holding their annual convention.
The MPAA said that 32 percent of the population of North America didn’t go to the movies at all in 2013, The Grio reported.
Andrew Scot Bolsinger won more than two dozen press awards during his journalism career. He is a freelance writer, author and operates www.criminalu.co, which is focused on prison reform. He can reached at [email protected]