This report’s typical methodology is to focus its analysis on the eight film studios that tally the highest annual theatrical grosses from films released in that calendar year. Due to the unique disruption to theatrical releases in the U.S. in 2020 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, GLAAD chose to center its analysis on the eight film studios that had the highest theatrical grosses from films released in 2019 as the last standard full year, as reported by the box office database Box Office Mojo. Those eight are:
- Paramount Pictures
- Sony Pictures
- STX Films
- United Artists Releasing
- Universal Pictures
- The Walt Disney Studios
- Warner Bros.
This report examines films that were distributed theatrically during the 2020 calendar year (January 1 to December 31) in the United States under the official studio banners and imprints as reported by Box Office Mojo, the studios, and other relevant entertainment reporting sources. In last year’s study, GLAAD expanded its quantified tally of major studios to include STX Films and United Artists Releasing. GLAAD did not include in this tally any theatrical re-releases and special events such as filmed live events in this count. Films distributed by these studios’ “art house” divisions were analyzed separately and not part of the parent studio’s final assessment. The total number of films released by major studios that met our criteria is 44.
GLAAD separately analyzed the films released under four smaller studio imprints, often referred to as “art house” divisions. This was done to compare the quantity and quality of LGBTQ representations in these studios’ releases directly to parent companies. These specialty films are typically distributed and marketed to a much smaller audience than that of their major studio counterparts. These distinctions were best defined by the reporting of Box Office Mojo and other relevant entertainment industry databases. The total number of films that met our criteria is 21.
These “art house” divisions include:
- Focus Features
- Roadside Attractions
- Searchlight Pictures
- Sony Pictures Classics
Each film was researched and reviewed for inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) characters. The total number of LGBTQ characters was recorded for each film, as well as each character’s race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability status based on what was presented in the film.
The films were also reviewed for the presence of general LGBTQ content and anti-LGBTQ language or “humor,” though, because such content must be considered in context, language was not quantified for this report. Additionally, each film was assigned to one of five genre categories:
The family category included animated and children’s films rated PG and under. The category of fantasy/science fiction/action also included horror films and action films not rooted in reality rated PG-13 and above. In the instance of films that straddled genres, categories were determined based on the predominant genre suggested by both the film and its marketing campaigns.
We recognize that not all audiences will agree with some of the films determined to be LGBTQ-inclusive and vice versa. GLAAD’s methodology is anchored by categorizing characters as LGBTQ based on what is presented on screen as part of the film and/or through wide and commonly held cultural knowledge of a real-life figure.
Based on the overall quantity, quality, and diversity of LGBTQ representation in the studio’s slate of films, a grade would typically be assigned to each major studio: Excellent, Good, Insufficient, Poor, or Failing. Please note, prior to the 2017 report, GLAAD assigned studios scores on a four-point scale of Excellent, Good, Adequate, or Failing.
Due to the never-before-seen unique disruption to theatrical distribution in 2020 by the COVID-19 global pandemic, GLAAD will not be issuing traditional grades to the studios in this year’s study, but rather, all studios will receive a rating of “Not Applicable” recorded in the place of a traditional grade. GLAAD plans to resume its grading scale in the next study.