Study: More diverse movie leads in 2018 than ever

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2019, file photo, Angela Bassett, left, and Chadwick Boseman, nominated for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture, introduce a clip from their film "Black Panther" at the 25th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles. Boseman and Bassett have been added to the starry list of presenters for the 91st Oscars. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK — The top films in 2018 featured more female and people of color in lead roles than ever before, according to a new study from the University of Southern California's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.

Researchers found that women were the lead or co-lead in 40 of the 100 highest-grossing films of 2018. That's an increase of eight movies from 2017 and 20 movies from 2007, when the study was begun.

There were 28 films with leads or co-leads from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group in 2018. That, too, was a substantial increase from the year prior and the highest mark on record.

Those numbers still fall short of reflecting demographics. Women make up about 51 percent of the U.S. population. Underrepresented groups make up about 39 percent of the U.S. population.

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