Black Panther’s universal popularity may not be a one-off.
In a study from the Journal of Advertising Research, researchers from Annenberg School for Communication and Michigan State University found that movies that are mass-marketed transcend racial orientation of the cast or narrative focus.
1,900 black and white adolescents were surveyed on their interest in 60 films from 2014. Half of the films were mainstream, top-grossing films, and the other half featured black actors in more than half of the character roles, or featured race or black culture as a significant plot line. Black teens recognized that the marketing for black films was targeting their demographic. However, white teens also considered themselves to be part of the target audience for both film categories.
Annenberg’s Amy Bleakley and co-authors Morgan Ellithorpe and Michael Hennessy examined previous research in media and teen behavior, and found that the media content focused on popular culture but not specifically black culture, overlooking the potential for black-oriented films to have universal appeal.
The results of the study have the potential to influence not just the way films are marketed, but also the diversity of film content and characters not just for tokenism, but as a norm.
Read more at the Annenberg School for Communication.