The movies, meanwhile, have become lucrative in their segregation. While most major-studio productions feature white casts, Tyler Perry has capitalized on the void. In less than a decade, his all-black melodramadies have helped Perry build an entertainment empire that caters to an underserved black audience. Perry works independently, and his success demonstrates that Hollywood has just been ignoring the needs of a significant moviegoing bloc. From this, the major studios have taken perhaps the wrong lesson: more all-black movies. It’s a development that appears to obviate a need for more integrated ones.
In a sense, the balkanization of movies would appear to be an example of how much culture has splintered into niches—more proof, if we needed it, that we no longer watch, listen to, or read the same material. But moviegoing is one of our last shared public acts. Hundreds of millions of people continue to watch movies together, and it’s easy to scan the house and see who’s watching with you. Were you to visit the big theaters in Boston—the AMC Boston Common or the Regal Fenway—you’d see that the audiences at both complexes are often diverse. The movies are not.” —fast forward