By Open Book
It is amazing African Americans future in cinema falls on the shoulders of Red Tails succeeding at the box office this weekend. Is this an ultimatum by Hollywood or George Lucas? The films production budget was 58 million and grossed so far 19 million domestic. Granted after distribution and marketing cost George Lucas (who produced the film) is out 93 million for this film.
We’ve discussed on LIH the lack of color at the Oscars last year in an article Did African Americans go MIA in Hollywood? We suggested it was due to African Americans being calculating to try and compete in domestic as well as international waters. The truth is, the film industry is volatile and competitive. With the Internet, moviegoers are more sophisticated than ever before. To find a story that resonates with everyone is difficult. With that said, Red Tails unfortunately, suffers from made for television campiness disease. Director Anthony Hemingway did his best to give this film dimension yet, the script was predictable and actors struggled with bad dialogue. Audiences today don’t need to be spoon-fed a plot. Although, George Lucas heart was in the right place, the truth is, African Americans need to produce authentic material to compete. So why is so much riding on this one film? Why an all, African American cast is on the verge of extinction? Sounds like a marketing ploy to get butts in the seats. African Americans want to see quality films that require critical thinking like everyone else. To find a genre that will appeal to both African and White American audiences is hard is true. First, whites don’t want to be reminded of racism and blacks don’t want to be reminded of white supremacy. So what’s a filmmaker to do?
Many African American filmmakers are showing up at the Sundance Film Festival this year to test the waters.
Spike Lee is showing his latest film entitled Red Hook Summer. In an article by Tambay called January 2012 Black Cinema Calendar Outlook, from Shadow & Act stated,
- “The 2012 Sundance Film Festival feature films that center on stories about people of African descent, like Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer, Ava DuVernay’s Middle Of Nowhere, Sheldon Candis’ LUV, Sam Pollard’s Slavery By Another Name, Terence Nance’s An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty, and Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts Of The Southern Wild.”
Many of these films sound very interesting. The question is will these films ever get seen? Especially if Red Tails fails to make back it’s budget.
What do you think of Hollywood’s “Do or Die” scare tactic to get African Americans to support Red Tails? What about producing original material that challenges audience intellectually? Is it possible for African American filmmakers to produce subject matter that can appeal to domestic and international audiences?
Please join us for an open discussion from Monday 1/23/2012-Wednesday 1/25/2012.