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USA Today Draws Fire, Backs Off ‘Race-Themed’ Headline on Box-Office Story

The headline, noting the strong performance of “Best Man Holiday,” is changed to “racially diverse” after flood of complaints on Twitter

USA Today set off a social media storm Sunday with a headline on its box-office story that many found racially insensitive.

“’Holiday’ Nearly Beat ‘Thor’ as Race-Themed Films Soar” was the original headline that the publication put up online and sent out on Twitter. Universal’s romantic comedy sequel from writer-director Malcolm D. Lee did surprisingly well with $30.5 million this weekend, as it debuted against the Marvel superhero sequel, which took in $38.4 million.

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When that headline drew a blast of complaints, it was soon changed,  to “‘Holiday’ Nearly Beats ‘Thor’ as Ethnically Diverse Films Soar.” The original tweet was deleted, too.

Most of the complaints struck a similar chord.

“USA Today calls movies with black people in them race-themed” Cos black people are a genre. Like superhero movies” tweeted Sindi Nikosi.

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“So according to USA Today any any movie showing Black people acting like humans is considered a race-themed movie,” said T. Brown via Twitter.

“Why are movies that star people of color “race-themed” but movies starring whites are not USA Today?” tweeted April. “Is friendship a race theme?”

The story also made mention of the box-office success of “Fruitvale Station” and “The Butler,” two films that also had predominantly African American casts.

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Even after the headline was switched, it was still catching heat.

“Changing it from race-themed’ to ‘diverse’ doesn’t make it any less stupid,” tweeted Michelle Tran.

A call to USA Today seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned, but the messages seemed to be hitting home. The headline was changed a second time.

Ultimately, it read: “’Best Man Holiday’ Nearly Beats Mighty ‘Thor.’”