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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less