This year saw a vast improvement for LGBTQ inclusion in NBCUniversal films. Within the theatrically distributed films from Universal, both Bros and Nope were GLAAD Media Award nominees, with Bros taking home the award for Outstanding Film – Wide Release. Bros featured a diverse and sizeable LGBTQ cast, while Nope boasted a Black lesbian lead. Both films premiered in thousands of theaters and included queer people front and center, which is what GLAAD has been advocating for since this report’s inception. There is still room for improvement within Universal films, such as the Jurassic World franchise’s inclusion of a character that may be read as queer via subtext but whose sexuality is not expliticly confirmed in the film.
Universal’s arthouse label Focus Features released GLAAD Media Award nominees Spoiler Alert and Tár, both with queer leads. Spoiler Alert is a heartfelt drama centered on a gay couple, while Tár gives viewers an extremely flawed lesbian anti-hero. Focus has a rich history of promoting LGBTQ films and this year is no exception. Streamer Peacock only released one LGBTQ-inlcusive film this year, queer slasher They/Them. Though the movie featured a diverse cast of LGBTQ characters, the messaging of the film sadly missed the mark.
Universal is setting an example by having LGBTQ leads in major studio wide released films, which play in big cities and small towns around the globe, and for queer representation in each of their subsidiaries as well. We hope to see this continue and increase in volume over the next several years, especially in stories highlighting the full diversity of the LGBTQ community including race, gender, ability and more. As Peacock grows, we also hope to see further inclusive movies announced in their original film slate.
Universal Pictures is one of the oldest film studios in the United States, founded in 1912. In 2004, Universal merged with NBC to form NBCUniversal, which was purchased by Comcast in 2011. NBCUniversal owns Focus Features, a film production and distribution company that was founded in 2002 by USA Films, Universal Focus, and Good Machine. Universal acquired DreamWorks Animation from 20th Century in 2016 and released their first film under that umbrella in February 2019. The studio’s previous releases tend to focus on mass appeal films such as Jaws, E.T., the Bourne series, and the ongoing Fast and the Furious franchise.
Universal did not begin releasing LGBTQ-inclusive films until the 1990s, and its 1991 adaptation of Fried Green Tomatoes removed the majority of the novel’s lesbian content. Universal’s LGBTQ representation has had its many highs and lows, as shown in films such as To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995), Mulholland Drive (2001), I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007), Bruno (2009), Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010), Kick-Ass 2 (2013), Riddick (2013), Legend (2015), Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016), Blockers (2018), and Last Christmas and Good Boys (2019), Freaky (2020), and Dear Evan Hansen (2021). Focus Features has an expansive inventory of LGBTQ-inclusive films, including GLAAD Media Award winners Brokeback Mountain (2005), Milk (2008), The Kids Are Alright (2010), Pariah (2011), Boy Erased (2018), GLAAD Media Award nominee Kajillionaire (2020), and Stillwater (2021).