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'Turning Red' was top streaming movie in both minority and white households in 2022, report finds

The hit animated movie about a Chinese Canadian teen navigating identity beat out other streaming hits like "Glass Onion" and "The Gray Man."
“Turning Red,” 13-year-old Mei Lee, a confident-but-dorky teenager with a tightknit group of friends who are passionate about a boy band called 4-Town.
“Turning Red."Pixar / Disney

Pixar film “Turning Red” was the top streamed movie in both white and minority households last year, according to a new report on the state of diversity in Hollywood

The animated movie, which struck a chord for its exploration of teen girlhood, Asian identity and fraught mother-daughter relationships, beat out other streaming hits like “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” and “The Gray Man,” according to an analysis by the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Turning Red,” which was nominated for best animated feature at the 95th Academy Awards and stars Sandra Oh, James Hong and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, follows a 13-year-old Chinese Canadian girl battling with her familial duties, crushes, anger issues and an hereditary curse that turns her into a giant red panda. 

On the Nielsen system, which assigns ratings to films by monitoring the viewing habits of thousands of families in the U.S., "Turning Red" scored 72.19. It led by a large margin, outscoring the next highest streaming film, "The Adam Project" by around 35 points.

“These are the films that are shaping Generation Alpha,” the study said. “The idea that young people of color and girls will grow up and buy into a creative vision where they are relegated to the margins with culturally devoid narratives is not realistic.”

Everything is going great for 13-year-old Mei — until she begins to “poof” into a giant panda when she gets too excited.
"Turning Red."Pixar / Disney

Streaming and theatrical releases were looked at separately in the study, with the top theatrical release being "Top Gun: Maverick." Overall, the top streaming films represented a more ethnically diverse array of lead characters in comparison to white-dominated theatrical movies.

Though movies that told diverse stories saw huge popularity, the report found that lead actors in theatrical films were overwhelmingly white. In fact, people of color only represented 21.6% of the leads in top theatrical films in 2022, while whites made up 78.4%. Representation among film directors saw similarly low numbers. 

“In an era of economic uncertainty intensified by the pandemic, studios pushed for theatrical ‘surefire hits’ that relied on nostalgia and previous intellectual property,” the study said. “Instead of forging ahead with more inclusivity and new narratives, studios seemed to limit their theatrical offerings in 2022, which also limited the opportunities for certain filmmakers.”