Can Black Panther change Disney’s poor image with black directors?
Walt Disney is one of the leading Hollywood studios in the world. Globally the company generates billions with its Marvel and Lucasfilm productions. While diversity is a trademark for its casting persona, the same can not be said for its behind the camera diversity. According to The Guardian, “Disney is the worst performing of the “big seven” Hollywood studios when it comes to hiring black directors.” The recently released USC Annenberg’s Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative revealed that Walt Disney does not do a good job at hiring diverse directors.
Of the top 100 films at the box office every year for the last decade, 5.1% of them were directed by blacks. None of these were with Disney films. “The figures were just as dispiriting when it came to gender: only 4% of the top 100 films were directed by women, with the worst years being 2013 and 2014. The study found that there was a male-female director ratio of 16:1 over the 10-year time period. Only three of the 612 directors were black women: Ava DuVernay, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Sanaa Hamri.”
But the upcoming Marvel Studios film, Black Panther may be the beginning of a change. Surely, with the successes of prior films, Black Panther is set to do huge numbers and will be a Top 100 film for the 2018 year. This will set up Disney to have their first black director behind the creation of a top film in more than a decade. Hopefully this can segway into more diversity for upcoming film projects uncluding a live action Aladdin, an Untitled Lin-Manuel Miranda/Byron Howard film and Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time. Diversity may indeed be on the horizon for Disney and that is a great thing.