Will This Year Cure Hollywood's ‘Selective Amnesia’ With Black Filmmakers?

Will This Year Cure Hollywood's 'Selective Amnesia' With Black Filmmakers?

Filmmakers and executives question the standard studio excuse that black films don't work. They do — just look at ‘Best Man Holiday’

A version of this story appears in the Nov. 20 issue of TheWrap's OscarWrap magazine.

This has been a banner year for black filmmakers, and yet somehow their success continues to stun Hollywood.

“The Best Man Holiday” was the latest film to thrill viewers, scoring an A+ on CinemaScore and grossing $30 million over its opening weekend.

That was almost enough to knock “Thor: The Dark World” out of the top spot — a result no box office prognosticators predicted.

Also read: ‘Slave’ Writer: Hollywood Making GOP Mistake of Not Tracking Blacks

“Historically Hollywood has done a terrible job assessing the value of films and properties that are driven by women and people of color,” Franklin Leonard, a former studio executive and founder of the Black List, told TheWrap.

“I'm boggled whenever black films do well by the constant refrain that they've over-performed,” Leonard said. “How many black films have to “overperform” before we change the model for expectations?”"

This is at least the third  film to catch people off-guard this year.

When “The Butler” opened to $25 million in its opening weekend, one trade publication called it an “overperformance.” When “Baggage Claim” grossed $9.3 million its opening weekend, Moviefone wondered: ”How Did ‘Baggage Claim’ Beat ‘Don Jon'?”

TheWrap's sources have not been clairvoyant either, also dubbing “The Best Man Holiday” a surprise.

Also read: ‘Thor’ Wins, but $30.5M for ‘Best Man Holiday’ Steals Box-Office Thunder

This is not the first time a strong year for black filmmakers has awed Hollywood either. Far from it.

“The Hollywood machine has selective amnesia,” African-American director, producer and distributor Ava DuVernay told TheWrap. “It's not like we haven't gone through a season of robust black image makers before.”

She pointed to the rise of filmmakers such as John Singleton and Spike Lee in the late 1980s whle “The Best Man” director Malcolm D. Lee noted the steady success of black comedies in the 1990s. Hollywood has benefitted from an eager black audience before, only to back away.

Also read: ‘Best Man Holiday’ Director Malcolm Lee on Sequels, Casting the White Guy and ‘SNL’ Diversity

In doing so, Hollywood discounts a substantial part of its constituency. ”12 Years a Slave” screenwriter John Ridley recently compared Hollywood's inability to satiate a dissatisfied black audience with the Republican Party's inability to court the black vote.

“There's an audience out there that you're not tracking, in the same way that the Republicans didn't track that audience in the 2012 election,” Ridley told TheWrap. “That audience is there, it is hungry for diversity of entertainment and it has the money to go out.”

The sheer number of films aimed at a black audience this year has spurred talk of an “Obama effect.”

The success has been both commercial and critical. “12 Years A Slave,” “Fruitvale Station” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” are all principal Oscar contenders while half a dozen films have performed well at the box office.

Also read: ‘Baggage Claim’ Director's Secret Weapons: Gay Adam Brody and His Wife's Crazy Stories

Yet the recurring surprise at their financial success suggests such talk ignores the larger quandary.

How can this wave sustain itself, and why hasn't it before?

Executives estimate studios release two to four films aimed at black moviegoers each year, and one common excuse for the paucity of those films is they don't play overseas. While a Tyler Perry movie can make money in the U.S., the thinking goes, foreign audiences won't relate.

Also read: TheWrap Screening Series: The 12 Best Quotes From '12 Years a Slave’ Q&A

“Studios are focusing on the global business and tentpole titles,” Jeff Clanagan, CEO of Codeblack films, a Lionsgate subsidiary focused on making movies for black audiences, recently told TheWrap while discussing the evolution of his company. “If you are looking at urban movies, you are only looking at a domestic audience. It's harder to get a budget for it when you're only dealing with domestic revenues and not foreign.”

Clanagan then said it was “a whole other conversation about whether these movies can go foreign.” 

DuVeranay was less diplomatic, labeling that explanation a copout. “Even studio executives I speak to behind closed doors admit there is not a real attempt to mine that area for films of color,” she said.

Leonard pointed to the success of black actors such as Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Jamie Foxx, all of whom have been global icons at one point or another. Their success has not created myriad opportunities for unproven filmmakers or actors.

Also read: How Oprah's ‘The Butler’ Hooked Women, Blacks and Older Moviegoers With One Decision (Video)

“These films make money every time,” Duvernay said. “But it doesn't trigger a greenlight frenzy.”

Her film “Middle of Nowhere” was nominated for several Independent Spirit Awards and DuVernay won the John Cassavetes award at that ceremony. But she says that no matter how well her films do, “I have to start from square one every time, and that's not the case for my white male counterparts.”

She has tried to establish a pipeline for black filmmakers in the independent space, founding the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement. AFFRM is an independent distributor dedicated to releasing arthouse movies that often disappear after a few film festival screenings.

Also read: '12 Years a Slave’ Director Steve McQueen Wants Viewers to Experience Injustice (Video)

It has released six movies, including “Middle of Nowhere.”

Yet diversity is a larger problem is at the studio level. While a black filmmaker can scrap together support for a film with a modest budget, securing the support of a major distributor or financier has proven far more challenging.

If there was ever reason to believe that will change, it's this year's crop of movies. More than a dozen movies are opening in an 18-month span, and the diversity, depth and success of those movies is unlike any in recent memory.

Also read: ‘Best Man Holiday’ Director Malcolm Lee on Sequels, Casting the White Guy and ‘SNL’ Diversity

Some offer unvarnished looks at slavery and segregation while others are universal tales of love and farcical comedy.

“What's fueling the renaissance, if you want to call it that, are good stories,” David Talbert, who directed “Baggage Claim,” told TheWrap. “The stories would be good regardless of who was acting in them. Kevin Hart's stand-up is just funny material. ‘The Butler’ is a historic and it's just a good piece.

“That's what's going to keep this from becoming an anomaly.”

  • js

    And with women? Black women included??

  • http://www.facebook.com/woop.dedoo.1 Woop DeDoo

    Yawn. There will always be a burgeoning niche market for it. In fact, if I disagree with Spielberg about anything in his prediction about the future of movies it's that there won't be so much a chasm between low or medium budget films and 100+ million dollar films as there is going to be a growing demand for niche films as “minority” races expand during the next few decades.

  • reggie


  • jhs39

    The reason that black filmmakers can scrape together a film with a modest budget is that black films are basically a genre, like horror films or romantic comedies. Black films only play to a specific audience–black people in the United States. White audiences aren't going to see Best Man Holiday or Tyler Perry films and these movies don't tend to do much if any business overseas. Tyler Perry movies tend to gross somewhere in the 30 million to 60 million dollar range and his movies are considered hits. He's also unquestionably the most successful black filmmaker working right now but his movies are hits partly because his budgets are much lower than what is normally spent on a Hollywood film. Giving Tyler Perry a bigger budget isn't going to grow his audience–it's just going to mean his movies lose money instead of making money.

    John Singleton and Spike Lee have both been working regularly since the late 1980's but both have far more flops than hits so it's hard to use them as an example of why Hollywood should hire more black filmmakers. Spike Lee's only significant commercial hit over the last 20 years was the heist drama The Inside Man. John Singleton's last movie was the dismal and painfully generic Taylor Lautner thriller Abduction. He also helmed one of Mark Wahlberg's worst films (Four Brothers), the least well-liked entry in the Fast and Furious series (2 Fast 2 Furious) and a can't miss reboot that turned out so badly its star said he would never under any circumstances work with Singleton again (Shaft).

    Occasionally black themed films manage to break out from their core audience and draw in viewers from other races, but this is extremely unusual. The Butler benefited from the participation of Oprah, an extremely smart publicity campaign and a story that ultimately resonated with a wider audience. Barbershop benefited from unusually strong reviews–even the conservative Wall Street Journal gave the movie a glowing write-up, so white audiences actually showed up to see what all the fuss was about.

    Conversely Tyler Perry movies generally receive blistering reviews (Temptation got 16% positive according to Rotten Tomatoes; Witness Protection which is his highest grossing film to date got 21% positive). Tyler Perry has tried using bi-racial casts to broaden his audience but unless he makes a movie that gets much better reviews it isn't likely to happen.

    The problems with black movies from a studio perspective are that a) you can't spend too much money on them because the audience is limited; b) the movies have virtually no playability overseas, even in countries with fairly large black populations; c) if black audiences aren't interested in seeing the movie you have no other audience to sell it to; and d) camcorder bootlegs are much more prevalent with black people than any other audience segment in the United States. By next week literally every single black person I work with will have a bootleg DVD-R of Best Man Holiday. After they have a bootleg do you think they're going back to the show to see it again?

    • BMH

      This is BS, bootlegging doesn't exist anymore … So what if “Black” movies only do well domestic, they are doing well and making profit… Get Cultured!!

      • jhs39

        If you think bootlegging doesn't exist anymore you must not know very many black people. On Saturday morning my black co-workers were talking about how much they loved Best Man Holiday and how quickly next week bootlegs would be available on DVD-R.

        • cece

          I don't know where you work, or why all the black people there bootleg movies but that's unfortunate. That's not my reality and I'm black and all my friends are too. We go to the movies like anyone else does.
          P.S. White people bootleg also

          • Mariah Lichtenstern

            Certainly more white and Asian bootleggers (bittorrent anyone?), but who cares what color they are?

      • Gerard Kennelly

        highest grossing movies to date
        3–The Avengers
        4–Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
        5–Iron Man 3
        6–Transformers: Dark of the Moon
        7–The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
        9–The Dark Knight Rises
        10–Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

    • talia

      That was extremely long winded and trite. You left off a few “mainstream” black film makers to make very skewd and narrow minded point. But kudos to you. One thing I will remind you of is that blacks like whites are not a homogenous group contrary to popular belief. And I like many others wouldn't be caught drunk or dead at a Tyler Perry movie or a Spike Lee movie. But I don't insult the people who do attend them, who are not just Black, by the way. I saw more whites going into BEST MAN'S HOLIDAY than blacks.

      • jhs39

        The article was about black themed movies, not black directors who make mainstream movies. John Singleton hasn't made a black themed movie in years. The only reason I included him in my post is because he was mentioned by name in the article. Someone like Antoine Fuqua is a black director who is successful but his movies aren't aimed specifically at black audiences and you would never know from his movies that the director was black. His last movie was Olympus Has Fallen–both of the leads and the majority of the cast was white. I think you missed the point of the article and my post. It wasn't about employing more black filmmakers it was about making movies for black audiences and why studios don't do so more often when a movie like Best Man Holiday comes along and is a big box office success.

        But success is relative. Best Man Holiday has a budget of 17 million dollars, which is very low for a Hollywood film with a theatrical release. Prisoners, which came out earlier this year and had no fancy special effects or production values had a budget of 46 million dollars. Escape Plan had a budget of 70 million dollars. Ender's Game had a budget of 110 million dollars. Gravity had a budget of 100 million dollars.

        My point is that if Best Man Holiday had the kind of budget that Hollywood spends on mainstream films it would not be a hit–it would be a money loser. Part of the reason movies like Best Man Holiday are hits is because they are made for modest budgets.

        • Michelle Kirkwood

          “My point is that if Best Man Holiday had the kind of budget that
          Hollywood spends on mainstream films it would not be a hit–it would be a money loser. Part of the reason movies like Best Man Holiday are hits is because they are made for modest budgets.”

          That dosen't even make any sense, and a film's budget really tells you nothing about whether it's gonna be a hit or not. The studio just dosen't want to spend that much on a black film, plain and simple.

      • Michelle Kirkwood

        I'm black, and I watch foreign movies, indie movies, some Tyler Perry movies, and just about all of Spike Lee's films, because no matter how many folks can't stand him, you can't deny the man is one of the best damn directors around today. I said that just to say this: to point out the point you already made, that black folks aren't a monolith and can't be shoved into a box as if we're all alike and like the same exact things—which we don't.

        I'm also tired of Tyler Perry movies getting dogged out—the reality is, he tapped into a specific black audience that Hollywood had completely forgotten and just didn't give a damn about,anyway—working-class,churchgoing black folk–the kind of family/people I grew up in/around—and that's who relates to those films. I do have my issues with Perry's movies—they aren't perfect either, but I do like the Christian values (some of them,anyway) he espouses. Spike is on a totally different level as far as his films are concerned, and I don't know why you're throwing them into the same basket, because they and their films are as different as chalk and cheese. You go to Spike's films to think,laugh, and revel in African-American culture, you go to Perry's films to laugh, see old-school values re-affirmed, and have a good time–plain and simple.

        • jhs39

          If you want to know why the studios don't make more black movies all you have to do is look at the numbers. Black movies play to no one but black people and they play nowhere outside North America. You can't sell them in Europe or Asia.

          So what does that mean in practical terms?

          Best Man Holiday cost 17 million dollars to make and grossed 69 million dollars. That translates into a 35 million dollar profit.

          Gravity cost 100 million dollars to make and has grossed 632 million dollars globally, two thirds of which came from outside the United States. That translates into a 432 million dollar profit.

          So which do you think the studios are more interested in making? The movie that makes 35 million dollars or the movie that can make 400 million dollars or more?

          Hollywood studios are in the blockbuster business. They have been since at least the 1980's. Black movies have too narrow of an audience to become blockbusters–that's why Hollywood doesn't make more of them.

    • qhurt

      What is a “black themed” movie?? Exactly how is The Best Man any different from the myriad of white cast romantic comedies that get larger budgets and wider distribution?? The Best Man is a ROMANTIC COMEDY PERIOD. Its not a black film its not angled at black audiences..its just a romantic comedy with black people in it. If we're going to start labeling films by the racial or ethnic group that makes up the casting then the other romcom About Time should be called a WHITE MOVIE..because its clearly aimed at white audiences..While we're at it so is Ender's Game, The Avengers, Thor, Hunger Games and just about every majority white cast film ever made..those films really aren't aimed or angled at black, brown and nonwhite audiences so it should be a surprise when nonwhites support them right just as its a surprise when non blacks show support for a black cast film (except for Will Smith who is universally loved apparently).am I right?

      • jhs39

        That's a pretty stupid question. A black themed movie is a movie that's made specifically for a black audience. The cast will be entirely black with the possible exception of one token white or Hispanic actor. The filmmakers will almost always be black as well. The movies are marketed specifically to black audiences, who end up buying nearly all of the tickets for the film. White audiences generally won't pay to see movies where the entire cast is black. According to Variety 87% of the people who saw The Best Man Holiday opening weekend were black and that's even though black people make up just 13.1% of the US population according to a 2012 US census count.

        You can pretend that Black Man Holiday is just a romantic comedy if you want to but numbers don't lie. If 87% of the audience for a movie comes from one race then that movie obviously does not have broad appeal.

        • qhurt

          okay then movies like thor, avenger's, gravity, about time and just about every movie thats majority/entirely white cast with the exception of one token black or hispanic actor having white filmmakers are movies that are specifically marketed to white audiences..is that correct? So no nonwhites should support these films because clearly theyre white themed and have no appeal to anyone who isn't white..is that also correct?

          • jhs39

            You are in a serious state of denial, dude. The world is what it is, not what you think it should be. You can't change reality through the force of your righteous indignation.

          • qhurt

            oh I recognize the country and the world for what it is. I'm just calling it as I see it. The very people who make decisions based on race and ethnicity turn around and act insulted and say they don't or that type of thing doesn't happen.

            Oh and btw MLK and a generation changed reality in the country through their righteous indignation why can't anyone else?

          • cece

            I guess he didn't have a comeback for that one.

          • jhs39

            Guess again.

          • qhurt

            that action started with words and many letters to the public. Calling out BS starts with the calling out part.

          • jhs39

            So basically you're comparing yourself to MLK because you bitch about stuff you don't like on the internet. Your sense of self-importance is staggering.

          • qhurt

            lol..your funny. I never compared to MLK just stating the process he used. Or do you think they went from zero to the march on washington???

          • Mariah Lichtenstern

            And you are not bitching? Such a double standard -and one which demonstrates exactly the mentality of those who market films with Afro-dominant casts to Afro-Americans only and assume (wrongly) that other ethnic groups won't watch, just as with the MLK analogy, ignorant racists assumed that whites wouldn't support civil rights.

            “Bitching” (which in itself is such as sexist and derogatory term-another form of racism, since there is only one human race), organizing, and protesting about it demonstrated how inaccurate those assumptions were. Blacks and Whites didn't think they'd see a Black President in their lifetime, but clearly, there were many wrong assumptions about that, too.

            By the way, the same assumptions you are making were claimed about hip-hop in the 80's (hence Russel Simon's use of the Beasty Boys to get radio stations to play it). More than half of hip-hop's consumers are Euro-Americans, and it is a global phenomenon.

          • jhs39

            MLK and a generation changed reality in the country through action, not by firing pissed off letters to newspapers.

          • Gerard Kennelly

            did MLK murder people with drones ?

          • staj

            Tell like it is, JHS39! We as a human race are better then we have been and are getting better. We as African-Americans are making movies with a theme we can all relate to. We are more than our religion and our race. We are a people with everyday stories just like everyone else.

          • Jamaal Finkley

            So true, they say it is made for black when it has majority black cast, but it is made for everybody when it is all white cast. So “This is 40” by Judd Apatow is not a white film, it is a romantic comedy, even though no blacks are in it, but Think Like a Man, The best man holiday (both of which will do better than This is 40) are race -themed, even though both were inclusive of both white and latino characters. You are not in a state of denial, they are in a state of denial about their own ignorant views.

          • beardog1579

            Just maybe these are BETTER MOVIES !!! People go to the movies to be entertained – if they want preaching, they can get that on Sunday at Church!!!

          • qhurt

            really?? How about The Wire a highly acclaimed show with a majority black cast that had consistently low ratings..here's one of the creators observations on it:

            The Wire has never been about one ruthless villain, or one relentless cop, or giving viewers anything that they've come to expect from other dramas. Instead, the show adheres to Baltimore's reality, and that means more than putting noted Baltimoreans like onetime police commissioner Ed Norris or Melvin Williams — the former drug kingpin busted byBurns in 1984 — in recurring roles. It also necessitates a predominantly African-American cast, one that the show's creators readily acknowledge hurts their ratings. (The average viewership for season 3 was 1.5 million per episode.) ”It's not just the farmer in Kansas,” says Burns. ”It might be the suburbanite in Ohio. But there are people who see that many black faces staring back at them and say, ‘This is not my story.”’ (It's worth noting that season 2, which employed the largest number of Caucasian actors since the show aired, was also its highest rated.)

            from an entertainment weekly article callled high wire act.

            that happens more often than not with white audiences its a studied fact.

          • Michelle Kirkwood

            Your average film is considered to have a broad appeal only because the majority audience is white here in the U.S.—obviously it's different in countries where the majority are non-white folks. I'm tried of hearing about how black films don't have any broad appeal, as if NO one could possibly relate to black people about anything—that's bullshit,pure and simple. As long as black and white (and other non-white folks) have been in this country, we have a lot of things in common, Black people love,live,laugh,like to have fun work,go to school, and retire in old age just like everybody else. We're not THAT damn hard to relate to,hell,we're human beings just like everybody else. That's why this idea that only white films have broad appeal is some straight-up bullshit, because I know damn well everybody in the world can't relate to only white people.

            People need to quit acting like white people are the default that everyone should be defined by and get off that shit,because it's tiring as fuck, and outdated,too. The people who run the studios only see people who look like them and so they replicate that same lily-white narrow insular world they see, and it shows in the kinds of films that get put out all the time. Things definitely need to change, I'm telling you that.

        • Telegraph

          I totally agree with this.

        • wks9370

          It's the first weekend, of course the majority of the audience will be black. But people will go see an intelligent and well-made movie. It may take a week or two, but they'll see it, or wait for it to come to VOD.
          Just as the majority of the audience for “Thor” is mainly 13 – 25 yr old, white males and comic book junkies the 1st week. The other demographics will filter in, making up more of the audience in the weeks to follow.

          • jhs39

            That's optimistic but the new Hunger Games is coming out Friday, the new Disney cartoon Frozen comes out 11/27 and then on 12/13 the new Hobbit movie comes out (as well as Tyler Perry's Christmas movie). I think the release schedule is too crowded over the coming weeks for Best Man Holiday to find an audience outside of the one it was intended for. It's likely that some white or Hispanic people will rent it at Redbox or watch it on cable but Best Man Holiday is not going to attract a non-black audience in theaters.

          • qhurt

            and why shouldn't it? whats the difference between this romcom and a film like About Time another romcom?

          • jhs39

            The difference is that Best Man Holiday has an all-black cast and most people who aren't black have no interest in watching movies with all black casts. Lionsgate has released two movies targeted to Hispanics since the end of August–Instructions Not Included and Pulling Strings. Both movies were released all across the country. So are black people racist for not supporting movies with Hispanic casts? Those movies were specifically targeted to a Hispanic audience and Best Man Holiday is specifically targeted to a black audience. I'm not really sure why people are so determined to pretend otherwise.

          • qhurt

            If anyone is pretending its you. White Privilege is so prevalent that whiteness is considered universal so much so that you don't even consider a film with an entirely white cast, Harry Potter for example, as a white film. Yet if that film were majority black cast then its a black movie aimed at a black audience solely. Do you consider the romcom About Time a “white film”?

          • jhs39

            About Time could be considered a white film. Woody Allen movies could be considered white upper class Jewish movies–the perspective he presents in his movies is one of wealth and privilege, although I doubt that he actually realizes it at this point. If you are black and I'm guessing you are based on the fact that you keep arguing the same belabored point then you represent 13.1% of the US population according to the latest census. Based purely on numbers there is no reason that black people or their perspective should be dominant in American culture. There is also no reason that the other 86.9% of the country should be obliged to be interested in your culture. How many movies do you go to see with all Asian casts? Or all Hispanic casts? But the rest of the country is bad because they have no interest in movies with all black casts?

            I'm going to tell you right now that as far as I'm concerned this idiotic discussion is over. You can post whatever you want but I won't be wasting any more time reading or responding.

            Have fun.

          • qhurt

            Thats right cut and run because you know your POV is BS..lol

            Its not about domination(only white privileged think in those terms) its about putting a project out to as many people as you can and letting the chips fall where they may. But thats all predertemined by hollywood when they saw a black cast film is “aimed at a black audience” then act surprised to see more than black people show up to the theater. And asians and latinos and all people of color get the same short shrift treatment which is why you don't see asian cast films (unless its martial arts) or latino films etc. Its about giving a project a FAIR SHAKE but you wouldn't understand because when has white america ever given a people of color a fair shake in american history??

            And About Time IS a white film but the difference is it isn't MARKETED as a white film. You don't see report after report constantly referencing the race of the actors in it. Its not AIMED at a white audience since its overseas distribution looks like this:

            Czech Republic
            East Africa
            Hong Kong
            New Zealand
            Norway UIP
            Poland UIP
            Serbia & Montenegro
            South Africa (Entire Region)
            United Arab Emirates
            United Kingdom

            you have east africa, hong kong, columbia, thailand south africa (entire region mind you) meanwhile The Best Man Holiday's overseas dist. is…wait..THERE IS NONE.

          • Michelle Kirkwood

            You're full of it. White people have dominated films for too damn long—there isn't a damn thing wrong with seeing things from OUR perspective. The reason black cast films don't get pushed IS pure racism, and that's all it's about. Don't make excuses for it, which is what you're doing. It must be nice living on your little white privileged island and never have to look at anybody perspective but your own because it's the majority anyway.

          • truthteller3479

            That's all you had to say. You wasted a bunch of time making all these straw man theories and remarks. The bottom line is, white people don't watch movies with people of color and the opposite is not true. That's it. It's about the audience, not the content of the film.

          • Michelle Kirkwood

            That's a blanket statement to make about what white folks watch, but there is some truth in it.

          • staj

            Best Man Holiday was intended for all that enjoy a romantic comedy, just like Thor was intended for people that enjoy comic book and mythical characters. Just because the movie starred a black cast doesn't mean it was written just for black people. I was a true fan of Friends and there was not one minority in the cast. I still enjoyed a story line about friendship even though they were white I could relate as you could if you go see Best Man's Holiday. I encourage you to step out your comfort zone, be open to it.

        • truthteller3479

          That's stupid. So only white movies have the ability to have broad appeal? Maybe, just maybe, the AUDIENCE has something to do with the numbers? There's no ‘exclusion’ from white folks going to see movies with a black cast…it's just that historically, white people don't partake in things they aren't a part of. People of color have to, the numbers dictate that we can't avoid all media. But when white people don't see themselves as the major part of a storyline or plot or whatever, they don't show up. Which is what made Will Smith's run of success so amazing to so many.

          • Mariah Lichtenstern

            You are wrong about that. They don't show up primarily because they are not aware because they are not marketed to. Marketing budgets are “targeted” to minimize costs. Secondarily, audiences are made to feel that it is “not for them” when they are not marketed to. If your claim were true, “white folks” would not listen to hip-hop but they are dominant consumers of it.

        • staj

          We are still segregated in this world. My neighbors are look just like me with the exception of maybe 10% so that is true. There are movies that I just don't relate to because it doesn't tell my story but I go because it looked interesting even though I don't see a minority anywhere in the foreground. We come out to see Thor and many other movies that are not very inclusive, so what is wrong with tell a story that takes place in our neck of the world? I appreciate your view and yes our movies look just like yours mostly black with a sprinkle here and there. I can only hope that all movies will be more inclusive. I will just take our win over Thor at the box office and be happy that we can be successful with our 13.1%

        • Beaushan

          How the heck do they know who watched the movie was black, latina, white or whatever??? My ticket didn't say black movie watcher. Are there camera's watching the audience or something? If that is the case, those cameras are lying because there were lots of different kinds of people in the sold out movie theater where I watched this movie. This movie was not marketed to Brown people!!! It was on all the talk shows and it was just being promoted. Some of you just get threatened to see a cast that is not dominated by white people. Get over yourselves and grow! The face of America is changing and there is nothing you can do about it.

        • Gerard Kennelly

          the colour purple
          do the right thing

          the butler
          12 years a slave
          jungle fever
          miracle at saint Anna
          the great debaters

    • Michelle Kirkwood

      FYI, had you bothered to check on that, John Singleton's entry into the F&F series made $50 million its first week in release. Four Brothers was also a hit,and it was actually not that bad of a film–nowhere near as bad as you claim it is,anyway. . And also,FYI, white folks also went to see THINK LIKE A MAN, which opened at 30 million on its opening weekend, not just black people, and their may be a sequel coming up. Sound like this is coming from YOUR perspective, not just the studios. Also, the studios don't even make enough black films (or even make them at all) to justify having that ridiculous,backwards, and racist viewpoint.

      The Best Man Holiday is currently one of the box office reigning, so what the hell do you mean, “no one wants to see black films”? That disproves your claim right there! The truth is, even white people are getting tired of seeing the same old bullshit with the same old white movie stars in it, and they want to see something different. The studios don't get that, which is why they're always so damn surprised when a black film is a huge hit. Obviously the audience could give less than a damn whether the cast of a film is all black or not—-that's just the studios’ hangup. And then they just go back to putting out the same old bullshit and wondering why the hell it keeps flopping. Oh well.

    • I'mABlackActress

      The problem is that the story of my life (or the lives of people that look like me [brown or black]) is seen as a “genre”… the experience of minority americans should be considered the same way that the experience of the majority is. We are America too.

  • Chaz

    Conclusion people, America is still racist and color elitist in that white people believe they're are still the top race in the World and nothing else is equal. What ignorance listed in these comments. Keep dreaming white people. How many of Ben Affleck and Adam Sandler dumb ass movies have flopped? You're so prejudiced, it's only your way or no way. 2013, we still a long way to go. Go see “12 Years A Slave”, maybe you'll see yourself and correct your ignorant/unintelligent psyche.


  • Rod

    It's always “interesting” that when a film with a mostly black cast is analyzed, the “pundits” always break down the audience by race. Usually it's only broken down by age group and gender. I don't remember seeing any breakdown by race over Thor or Gravity when they opened. Will be interesting to see how they break down the audience for Catching Fire next week.

    • Gerard Kennelly

      the only black character was killed in HGCF

  • Telegraph

    Usually when I see a single-raced film casting it strikes me as being up it's own ass by clearly attempting to appeal to a certain racial audience. That in itself is very snobbish but also worryingly regressive. Look around you.. modern social circles are richly diverse in homes, workplaces, bars, clubs and pretty much everywhere else, naturally!

    Why make an all black film or an all white film? Why? Are we still in an apartheid? What message are you trying to achieve? I feel people become subtlety brainwashed into being pro-black or pro-white by watching too much of these silly fantasy type communities.

    Thor was just a brilliant movie comprised of ‘good actors’ just to make up a thoroughly entertaining film. Most of these race-themed movies (black or white) are dramas based on romance and therefore realism, I would assume. To me, they are just that, “race-themed”, primarily and also unwatchable or cringeworthy because they are far too unconvincing against real world diversity.

    My eyes gloss over those film cases on the shelves (even the art-work design and colours are designed to entice a certain race) because I envisage a small-minded director with some outdated idealistic vision who doesn't even yet understand that people are just people. Even Spike eventually worked this one out.

    • Jamaal Finkley

      That is very interesting, yet most often “race themed” films are just the opposite, all white. Nobody complains then, and I am sure you didn't take to commenting on Les Miserables, or you didn't take notice that the 170 million budget for Thor featured two black actors with speaking roles and the 17 million budget for The Best Man Holiday has 1 caucasian, 1 latino actor with significant roles. Was Thor also “race themed”? Was it cringeworthy to watch because of the lack of diversity? What people need to check is that they aren't just being ‘cringeworthy” to black people in general.

      • beardog1579

        THOR is a movie about GODS – what race is that??? Left alone, ALL races exist peacefully, getting upset only when someone isn't pulling their own weight – but that has nothing to do with color, it has to do with work ethic! its only when hollywood or the media or government interferes with peoples lives that everything comes to the breaking point! Hollywood is about as diverse as it gets, so perhaps Black people aren't auditioning for the parts, or maybe there's just a better actor??? You can't have it both ways however, you either want to be included like everyone else (your term – IGNORED) or you WANT to be racist and continue to have everything separate (ESPY, BET, etc.) Which is it? America has LOTS of minorities now and you're the only ones still whining about being “ignored” Get over yourselves and join the rest of this country! We're weary of this constant barrage when you don't get your own way! Talk about bullies!!!

        • truthteller3479

          GTFOH! Thor is an extension of the fact that most of the things we have been taught in school and then used in media are white in scope. If the heroes were ALWAYS white (i.e. your non-real “Gods” or superheroes like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, etc.), there IS no room for diversity. People of color had to create their own things because of a lack of anything that was provided with their own voices…unless you think Good Times represented all of black America. You're an idiot and completely lack perspective, which also shows your ignorance. And who is ‘we'…you're only speaking for yourself.

        • Jamaal Finkley

          @truthteller3479:disqus what is more interesting is that he replied to my comment and quoted me for something I never said. So maybe he is just a troll looking for attention. But either way, you make a good point about super heroes and Gods, that I just didn't even care to get into. It's like if we are starting from there, i don't have the time to explain logic to you.

        • staj

          We speak from our truth. I would like to see more Asians, Hispanic and every other race in movies, on TV, theatre — everywhere. We are not the only race stating long over due. We create for ourselves what you say there is no room for or “we are not what they had in mind for that part” Whoopi Goldberg has starred in several movies that was written especially for a white lead. There is no open mindedness when you write a part that could be played by anyone as Whoopi has proved but your original idea was a white man lead. I say all this to say…..think before you type bearddog!

    • Michelle Kirkwood

      Dear, black people have our own culture and issues that we like to make films about that are unique to us as a people. THAT'S WHY. And BTW. I can count only about 9 or 10 all-black cast films that came out this year—including all of the movies mentioned in the article above. That's not even enough for YOU or any other white person to complain about, and you know it.. And unless you're blind or just didn't notice, MOST of the films you see that come out are majority white,with few exceptions,and nowhere near as diverse as you claim–don't even lie about that, because they aren't. I know because I've seen enough of them to know they aren't.

      And don't pretend like you didn't hear all that uproar about some god in the movie Thor being black, and a WHOLE bunch of white folks raising hell about that. Never mind that these gods were fictional beings and could have been any color,some folks just lost their damn minds because Idris Elba got cast as this particular god. Go look it up, because it did happen. And you need to pull your head out of your own ass and realize that the world dosen't revolve around you,and that everybody in the world can't relate to your white middle class bullshit—what Hollywood calls “universal” , which is ridiculous considering everybody in the world isn't white, or middle-class for that matter. BTW, that's how you promote certain movies made for a target audience—Hollywood has ALWAYS done that–don't act like you didn't know that. Just because YOU can't relate to a black film, it sure as hell dosen't mean that nobody else can. Such a film is about ME, not YOU, and it reflects MY culture, NOT yours, you arrogant,ignorant,racist bastard! Now just SFTU,for real!

      There's ain't a damn thing wrong with wanting to see a film dealing with mainly black folks—I'm black, and I want to see a film about people that look like ME for a change, because,hell, when I go to the movies, virtually ALL of them are about white people ( unless it's an Asian or African or East Indian film, which I love.) Since you're a white person and everybody in the mainstream looks like you, you'll never understand why the hell it's important for US to see movies that revolve around US and not another white protagonist for once like it usually is 99% of the damn time.

      And if you weren't so damn close-minded and ignorant about black films, you would know that all of them aren't about race—they deal with things like family, finding you identity, romance, life—the things MOST movies deal with. And a good deal of these films are FAR more diverse than the average white cast Hollywood film I see come out—most of them act as if anybody who isn't white dosen't even exist outside that white middle class point of view, that they have the nerve to call or that our lives aren't even worth making films about. Yes, race is very much a part of our lives, but for black people,it always has been because it's always been MADE an issue for us, even though we don't want it to be, and would rather go on and live our lives without it being an issue. I'm sick of having to explain all this to some ignorant white person who can't even be bothered to watch black films (made by black filmmakers,mind you) or understand why we want to see ourselves onscreen—especially when there are so many good black films out there, and there are also white people posting on here and on other sites who understand perfectly where I'm coming from on this subject.

      • Telegraph

        Even the moderators of this thread are bigoted and biased towards their own views by deleting any kind of challenging viewpoints. How shameful and unprofessional to open up a debate and then be picking and choosing what you feel is appropriate opinion-wise. You allow fools to post one-sided claptrap like the above and then cull any opposition to it. If you think it's ok to be totalitarian, you're living deep in the past. Grow the hell up, get with the times and be a respectable publication of the 21st Century. Deleting this will prove my point even further.

  • beardog1579

    There was just a survey online asking if we needed more BLACK
    DOCUMENTARIES?!?! Isn't THAT racist? – yet it's still online and still being
    pushed by Blacks! If everything should be equal, as they are stating, then I'm
    guessing we can get rid of all the “special” awards shows and everything else
    which applies ONLY to Blacks? I'm not understanding how having “special”
    ANYTHING which applies to only ONE race ISN'T RACISM?!?!? So let's say goodby to
    the ESPY's, NAACP, Miss Black America, Black Panthers, Black Entertainment
    Network! The regular shows, commercials & TV do NOT exclude Blacks – then
    its RACISM for Blacks to have something which applies only to themselves. ONE
    awards show should be adequate for everyone – plus it will cut down on the show
    interruptions with the numerous trailers, etc.! If you cannot make it on a
    playing field with everyone included, then you obviously weren't that good!

    • scott black

      In reply to your comment watch a recap of this years EMMYs is that the diversity that satisfies you?

    • Michelle Kirkwood

      You got it wrong and you got it twisted. Once again, black filmmakers obviously have NO problem competing with white filmmakers in terms of their work—-the problem is that they do NOT always get the chance to compete on that level playing field because it's slanted toward the majority—white folks—that run it. That's what the article is about.I don't know why that's so damn hard for you to understand—if black films (other than Tyler Perry's) were getting pushed just as much as the average white-cast film is, we would not even be having this discussion in the first place.

      And, hell,no black people having SOME things to themselves isn't racist—I don't know where the hell you got that from—for one thing, the NAACP was started to fight racism against black people—and white folks helped start it,too. BET was created at a time when their were very few TV stations needed to deal with black folks’ issues, and so that's why it was needed. Miss Black America contests were started at a time when black women were NOT allowed to compete in the Miss America contests. In fact,they weren't allowed to until the late 1960's—read some history before you start popping off at the damn mouth,because you obviously didn't bother to find out any of the history behind anything you mentioned. So STFU with your know-nothing BS already.

      Most of the things black people have for themselves was because of segregation—-in which white people would not let black folks live/work/eat/or do anything at all in certain places—this was legal up until barely 50 years ago—we were basically forced into having these things because we weren't not allowed to be anywhere white people were.

      Double standards, my a%$—-you can't claim that there's a level playing field for everybody,then hold back half the people on that same field form getting a fair chance to compete because they're not white. That's the only double standard I see and its coming mainly from white folks, who run the film business. It damn sure isn't black people creating them!

  • Daniel Sterling Sample

    The Hollywood Studios, working together, produce just enough black films to cover up the sad fact that “The Family” , totally racist and totally sexist, controls all films coming out of Hollywood. If you don't know who “The Family” is, you need to take a second look at who compromises the officers and board members of all the Hollywood Studios. They are all white, all male, all very rich and all members of “The Family”. “The Family” grabs the bulk of the best acting roles and directors. What puzzles me the most is, after a century of blatant racism and sexism, “The Family” goes about their corrupt business dealings and nobody has the guts to drag them on to the carpet.
    Here's the real grabber! Where have all of the hundreds of billions of dollars that the Hollywood Studios have generated outside America gone? As long as “The Family” can buy the President and a few key politicians in Congress, there is little chance the Hollywood Studios will ever pay their fair share of America's tax revenues.
    So, bend over America, “The Family” wants to stick it to you…..again.

    Daniel Sterling Sample
    sample.daniel@gmail.com (please note, I am attaching my email address)

  • Rich Barrett

    Every country has issues dealing with race, whether multi-cultural nations like the States or mono-culture countries like China. The US though is far ahead of similar countries like the UK, where I reside. Movies with a predominantly Black cast are shunned over here, and if they do get a release, it's only on a minimum of screens. A white film that under performs at the US box office like Runner, Runner or the Counsellor still gets a push over here, even though films that flop in the States usually end up matching their poor reception here too. Black films are not show the same fairness. 42 would've been a bigger hit over had followed a white lead, but whites in this country as in America are only interested Black culture if it's filtered through a white prism ie: Banksy, Eminem, Miley Cyrus. Anyone who's an inveterate, fervent movie fiend shouldn't need to have a protagonist from their same homogenous, social milieu before they can engage in the story. The only benefit in being a Black movie fan, is it teaches you to be less parochial than other races, as we're often secondary characters in stories, so we base our decision to watch not on racial solidarity.

  • Hans dieter Ulrich

    The standard studio logic is NOT that, “Black films don't work,” it is that , “Black films don't work internationally.” That sadly remains largely true. It means they place a limit on the budgets for “black” films so they can recoup only out of the US market ( they don't perform well in Canada either). Some see this as racism, but its not really – it's more provincialism. Football movies also don't work internationally, or high school baseball, or comedies about school reunions, or California stoners and so on. And it's not just American movies that get treated this way. Where there was once a “European” film market, today there are just countries. French movies don't play in Italy let alone the United States and German movies barely make it from one side of that country to the other. Provincialism is on the rise as local production improves and grows and TV proliferates, making them less accepting of foreign programming in general.

    • Michelle Kirkwood

      Yeah,but where is the actual proof of black films not working internationally? Where are the actual numbers to prove that? I have never read about or heard any actual proof that black films are supposedly not doing well overseas. What, I have read about is that distribution here in the U.S. is run by mainly white distributors who have been in the business decades and still have that old racist mindset that black films won't sell only because THEY think black films won't sell. These are the same people that told George Lucas that his own RED TAILS wouldn't sell or make any money,mind you—-which was why he ended up producing it himself. That's racism,plain and simple—you don't have to make excuses for it.

      The truth is, that's the only reason black films don't do well overseas—it's because nobody bothers to promote them overseas,and then it becomes a self-perpetuating prophecy. It's mainly racism on the distributors’ part, as well as studio executives. Hell, their are major white films that have flopped BIG time like The Green Hornet (which bombed internationally as well as domestically, and the same with John Carter, yet those kind of superhero films are still being made. This is the twenty-first century I've having a hard time buying the notion that the rest of the world dosen't want to see any all-black cast films, but yet they'll watch any film with Denzel, Will, or Sam Jackson in it. That just sounds ridiculous as all hell to me, and a lame-as-hell excuse for not promoting black films.

      Another reason these films are successful is because they're not the same old predictable BS that Hollywood churns out on the regular. Let's face it—the majority of white films coming out now are either remakes of this classic,,reboots of this or that long-running franchise, cartoons or sequels—in other words, nothing white folks haven't seen a thousand times already at the movies. Black films offer another perspective that isn't the typical white middle class point of view that dominates the majority of movies with few exceptions. That's what fresh and different about them, when they are made very well, just like any other movie out there—as well as them dealing with parts of history you rarely see onscreen.. And being a black person, I like seeing people that look like me onscreen for once,wtihout having a main white character to interpret the story for white audiences for–as if black folks can't tell their own damn stories by themselves—which we can.

  • Gerard Kennelly

    1.Iron Man 3Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Pictures$1,215,439,9942.Despicable Me 2Illumination Entertainment / Universal Pictures$918,081,8253.Fast & Furious 6Universal Pictures$788,679,8504.Monsters UniversityWalt Disney Pictures / Pixar$743,451,4855.Man of SteelLegendary Pictures / Warner Bros.$662,845,5186.GravityWarner Bros.$615,347,0007.Thor: The Dark WorldMarvel Studios / Walt Disney Pictures$591,112,0008.The CroodsDreamWorks Animation / 20th Century Fox$587,204,6689.ching Fireonsgate$573,000,00010.
    1-ironman 3
    2-despicable me 2
    3-fast & furious 6
    4-monsters university
    5-man of steel
    7-thor the dark world
    8-the croods
    9-the hunger games catching fire
    10-world war Z