The Kids Are All Right
A Still from the film ‘The Kids Are All Right’

As Hollywood rolls out the red carpet and our biggest movie stars come together to celebrate the 94th Academy Awards, researchers from Monash University Australia have released the findings of extensive research into LGBT 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 LGBT-inclusive representation significantly outperform those with no LGBT representation at the box office.

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

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

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

“In analysing the films, we classified all movies into three categories, non-LGBT movies, LGBT-inclusive movies and LGBT-themed movies. LGBT-inclusive movies are those that include LGBT 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 LGBT-inclusive representation outperform those with no LGBT representation in terms of box office revenue. We also found that movies with LGBT-themed representation perform equally as well as non-LGBT movies more recently.”

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

“I hope our findings encourage more movies to add LGBT 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 LGBT inclusiveness, but they are also held accountable to their investors,” Cheng says.

“Our findings suggest that adding LGBT-inclusive representation increases a movie’s financial success in addition to its positive social impact, it’s a win-win situation.”

Read the paper here: LGBT-Inclusive Representation in Entertainment Products and Its Market Response: Evidence from Field and Lab (