After ‘Black Panther’ Success, Theater Top Dog Wants More Diversity In Superheroes

Disney / Marvel

More blacks and women.

John Fithian, the head of the National Association of Theatre Owners, has been wanting that for years, he said. Now, he’s hoping to get that message across to studios after the astounding success of Black Panther, besides Wonder Woman,Variety reported.

“Theater owners have been asking for more diversity in movies for a long time, and by diversity, we mean diversity in casting and diversity in times of the year when movies are released,” Fithian told Variety.

Black Panther will make at least $1 billion at the box office — and it was released in February.

“The traditional norm is that big movies only go in the summer and winter holiday,” Fithian, a lobbyist, told Variety while having wine in New York City. “Black Panther proves if you’re good, people will come out and see you any time of the year. It also shows that a movie with an all-black cast and a black director can break records. It’s not the race or the sex of the actors in a movie, it’s the quality of the movie that matters.”

Black Panther is ultimately a product of Disney, which is going to release a female-led superhero movie in Captain Marvel. The studio will also display diversity next month when it releases A Wrinkle in Time. It’s the first $100 million film directed by a black woman, Ava DuVernay.

Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman in "Black Panther," which is making movie theater owners want more diversity in superheroes.
Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman in "Black Panther." The success of the film and "Wonder Woman" have movie theater owners wanting more diverse superhero protagonists and their actors.Featured image credit: Disney / Marvel

But Disney is presently comprising a significant corporate deal that could restrict the number of movies that are seen in theaters. Disney is purchasing most of Fox’s film and television properties. The new version of the company won’t permit as many films than the studios produced on their own, analysts predict.

“The Disney-Fox acquisition certainly raises the question of product supply, because Disney has a model of making huge global blockbusters only, and Fox has a more diverse model of making global blockbusters, mid-budget movies, and smaller Fox Searchlight titles that do well and get awards,” Fithian told Variety. “Exhibitors need all of those types of movies.”

Fithian pointed out that the buyout hasn’t been greenlit by the government but that dialogue he’s had with the corporations indicate that Disney will yet offer a “range of movies” after it purchases Fox. Meanwhile, Fithian is telling other studios to rise to the occasion in the wake of the purchase, advocating for an increase in mid-budget films to go alongside the many comic-book films.

“If you look at the breakdown of the top movies of the last five years, we have more global blockbusters than ever before and a good, steady stream of independent, intelligent, award-worthy movies, but we don’t have as many mid-budget movies,” Fithian told Variety. “That’s what I’d like to see change.”

It’s been assumed that teenage boys wouldn’t be interested in movies with women as the protagonists and that folks overseas would not want to see movies led by black actors. but both sexes watched Wonder Woman, and Black Panther made $304 million overseas through the weekend. Fithian wants for studios, feeling confident in the ticket sales, to make more films with casts less saturated by white males and promote plots with other races and genders as the protagonists, according to Variety.

“We want these movies to set a precedent and not be one-offs that people forget about,” Fithian told Variety.

“We’d like to see this more and more and more. There should be a Latino superhero movie or an Asian superhero movie. The more you have different types of people in these movies, the more you appeal to different types of audiences.”