Should we be surprised by the most profitable film of 2017 so far?

Flying below the high-profile summer superhero flicks and the latest blockbusters brought to you by Disney, one unexpected film is hanging on to the noteworthy title of "most profitable film of 2017" (thus far):

Jordan Peele's "Get Out."


The writer and director of "Get Out," Jordan Peele. Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

"Get Out" wasn't just critically acclaimed and beloved by audiences — it also raked in cash at the box office.

The horror flick, which brilliantly explores the nuances of race relations and racism in today's America, brought in over $250 million in ticket sales around the world, a number that far surpasses its production budget of a mere $4.5 million.

The return on investment for "Get Out" stands at a staggering 630%, according to The Wrap, which considered overall budgets and box office results of the top-grossing films of 2017 for its analysis.

Allison Williams and Daniel Kaluuya, who star in "Get Out." Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

To be clear, "Get Out" isn't the top-grossing film of 2017. That honor currently goes to "Beauty and the Beast," which brought in $1.26 billion worldwide.

"Beauty and the Beast," however, was created on a $160 million production budget and included a costly global marketing campaign. While its return on investment is still impressive, exceeding 400%, it pales in comparison to "Get Out."

Should we be surprised by "Get Out" standing at No. 1?

On one hand, any film that can pull in those box office numbers from a budget that small deserves a round of applause.

On the other hand, the historic success of "Get Out" comes amid growing demands that Hollywood recognize and respond to the impressive financial feats of films featuring stories about people other than straight, white men.

Stars of 2016's "Hidden Figures" (left to right) Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Janelle Monáe. Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Hollywood tends to see blockbusters led by women, people of color, and other marginalized groups as rare exceptions to the rule.

But in the past few years, evidence has shown that's not really the case at all.

"Every time there’s a success [of a film with a mostly black cast], it gets swept under the rug,” Jeff Clanagan, president of Lionsgate’s Codeblack Films, told The Washington Post in regards to 2016's "Moonlight." "It's almost like there's an asterisk on it. They chalk it off as an anomaly.”

Last year, "Hidden Figures" — a film predominantly led by black women — was the highest-grossing Best Picture nominee at the Academy Awards. In July, "Girls Trip" (again, starring all women of color), exceeded box office expectations; it has pulled in over $76 million globally to date.

Surpassing "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" as this summer's highest-grossing blockbuster, "Wonder Woman" is nearing the $800 million mark in global box office sales.

Gal Gadot, star of "Wonder Woman." Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

Audiences are hungrier than ever to see diverse stories on the big screen. Why isn't Hollywood listening?

A new report by the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism paints a bleak picture in terms of media representation across the highest-grossing films of 2016.

The report, which analyzed the demographics of speaking and named characters in the year's 100 top films, found that marginalized groups — particularly women, racial minorities, and LGBTQ people — continue to be underrepresented. For Hispanic women and people with disabilities, the numbers were downright abysmal.

It's not so much that audiences are choosing not to see films featuring these characters — it's more that those movies aren't being produced in the first place by a film industry overwhelmingly run by older straight white men.  

"Diversity is not just something that just happens,” Katherine Pieper, a research scientist at USC, told the Associated Press of the study. “It’s something you have to think about and aim for as an objective and achieve."

The data suggests studio execs would be wise to get out of their boxes and start making films for a more diverse audience. It'd pay off in more ways than one.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

As Canada's women's soccer team prepares for its gold medal match against Sweden this week in Tokyo, it also prepares to make history as the first Olympic team to have an openly transgender, non-binary athlete win a medal at the games.

Quinn, the 25-year-old midfielder, announced their non-binary identity on social media last September, adopting they/them pronouns and a singular name. Quinn said they'd been living openly as a transgender person with their loved ones, but this was their first time coming out publicly.

"I want to be visible to queer folks who don't see people like them on their feed. I know it saved my life years ago," they wrote. "I want to challenge cis folks ( if you don't know what cis means, that's probably you!!!) to be better allies."

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