Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cross Over Roadblock?

Okay, does anyone remember this. Scroll down to the very bottom and see where I said the reason is basically that we(black people) are not able to cross over and appeal to a white audience. In my daily perusing of the entertainment world, it seemed as though this could be said also for movies. Before you click x, hear me out.

I'll step on the brakes and detour to Mr Tyler Perry. Unless you are living under a rock, Tyler Perry is the megasuccessful black producer, writer, actor of a number of movies and it seems he has joined the ranks of "Accepted Blacks"(A.Bs). A.B's you say? Well that's my personal definition of black actors that white peeps are comfortable with. To make this easier, members of this club are: Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Will Smith etc...you should catch my drift by now. Tyler Perry only made this cut because it seems nowadays if you make a black movie that is not done by Tyler Perry then you are kinda SOL. Studio heads are uncomfortable till you say Tyler Perry. I can't think of any other black movies since the onslaught of Perry movies.

I digress sha, a lot of people including black people give Perry a lot of flack for his movies. They say he is perpetuating a stereotype. I am not a fan of Perry but I have seen every movie he has brought out to make my own decisions, and even though I am not a fan I disagree with them. Perry said every character in his movies are people he encountered growing up and just because it's not yours or my reality doesn't mean it's not other people's reality. My beef with Perry is that his movies are done at the most basic of basics like he is talking to a primary school student but I understand his audience and that's a different story. But it leads me to the main movie in question - Precious.


Precious was a little known movie directed by Lee Daniels (Shadowboxer, Monster's ball). It premiered at Sundance beginning of 2009 and noone had heard of it, till Oprah WInfrey and yup, Tyler Perry attached their name to it, suddenly people took notice, earlier on, on my FB status I had mentioned that Hollywood had chosen their token black nominees for award season and it was from the movie, Precious. Precious premiered amidst lots of buzz and praise and I am sure they made more than was expected but they stalled at $35 million. Usually for most movies with this much buzz, ticket sales rise but this is what I read somewhere:

"Yet the fairy tale, I’m afraid, has now run into something of a road block. Every successful movie, in its own way, waxes and then wanes with audiences, but over the last few weeks something startling has happened to Precious: After burning up the box office, it quite suddenly went cold. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, for instance (when it was still hot), it was on 664 screens, and it averaged a sizzling $10,680. (I don’t mean over the five-day holiday; I mean over the normal Friday-to-Sunday frame.) Then, just one week later, it was still on 664 screens, but suddenly the average was down to $3,437 — a virtual cliff drop of a plummet. One week later (which is to say, this past weekend), the movie was still on 664 screens, and the average had sunk to $1,929. In other words, within the space of three weeks, just as the awards season begins to get busy with actual awards, Precious has gone from being a breakout indie smash to a movie that looks as if it’s starting to squeeze out its last receipts."


Reasons have come up that maybe the movie is too depressing, to which I call BS. I have watched a LOT of Oscar movie contenders and there is some depressing stuff in there. I happened to see an advance screening that came with a Q&A with the director and he specifically said that this movie was made for black people. Majority of the people at the screening were black and I suspect that if black people were the majority of viewers and it stalled at 35mill, is it safe to say that this movie did not appeal to our white brothers and sisters? That's what I suspect but who knows? I happened to read comments on an article on Precious and a lot of commenters(obviously white) were making comments saying that they can't waste money to see a movie that promotes obesity (ess squeeze me?). One last stretch of an example is Princess and Frog, so far it's made 85mill but the industry peeps are dissapointed because it made less than was projected. Could it be because the characters were black? I sincerely hope that is not the case but I can't deny that I feel that race plays a huge part. What do y'all think?

16 comments:

Ms. Royal Reigns said...

I'm not surprised with "Precious" numbers due to the fact that it is an indie movie and it's rare when an indie movie gross disgustingly amount of money. I don't think the movie was intended specifically for black audiences, though. It just happened that way. Non-blacks see a majority filled African-American cast and automatically thinks it's a "Black movie". Which I don't blame them. I tend to do the same thing. But some movies you see the preview and just KNOW it's not one of those movies. And "Precious" is one of them. It's a shame that it grossed so low. I think the movie will profit more once award season is over and also when it comes out on DVD.

Now I am highly disappointed with the numbers on "Princess and the Frog." What kinda BS is that? That movie appeals to everyone. Every single damn person. For Pete's sake, it's a freakin' Disney movie! And it's such a great movie, too. The numbers are average because the princess is black. Period. It pains me to say it but it's the truth. Ugh.

neefemi said...

i think its a little bit of everything - as a health practitioner my favorite topic being obesity - the weight issue troubles me - the story(plot) itself is a lot, and if you know anything about America, they don't like to see the bad, they only want to portray the good and its going to take hell of a lot than the president being black for the race issue to be non-existent - like really they are saying Avatar is racist - so its just the multitude of factors, not just one thing

TayneMent said...

@RR - Saying the movie was made for black people is a direct quote from Lee Daniels he said, " MY mother said I don't do stuff for black people and I made this movie for black people". My opinion is that it should be able to transcend color and anyone can watch it but I think we are in an era where a black dominated cast of anything just doesn't appeal to white people. I understand about indie movies, but I feel precious stepped out of indie status kinda like Juno, Juno was an indie movie but buzz and word of mouth got it out and it was distributed by a commercial studio - Lionsgate.

@Neefemi - I don't know if I agree with always portraying the good. Like I said, I do watch a lot of movies of all genres and they do portray the bad eg Crash, Monster. I don't understand how out of all the problems in the movie eg abuse the weight is singled out. If they watched the movie they'd see how/why she was obese in the first place. In no way, was it promoting obesity but in the same way racism is not going to be extinct doesn't mean there won't be overweight people and should we ignore what overweight people are going through and focus on their weight instead?

Ms. Royal Reigns said...

He actually said that? Hmmm. The movie never came across to me as your typical "black movie". And I don't see how that movie is made for the black people in mind. "Car Wash". "Soul Plane". Those movies were intended for the black audience. "Precious", though? I just don't see it. Weird. Has "Precious" been picked up by a commercial studio, yet?

Harry-Rami Itie said...

I saw clips of Precious and although I did not like what I saw, I am still gonna watch it but still...u just gave me sumthn to think about...

Myne Whitman said...

The movie was obviously made for black people, it was even adapted from a book by a AA with a predominantly black readership. I saw Precious with my SO. The cinema was filled but mostly by blacks. BTW Seattle is mostly white.

The truth is that the world is still race segregated no matter how mixed up we are culturally. Imagine if Precious was cast with white actors? I even think TP movies are also limited, what's the most he's grossed? Compare that to similar movies.

HeavyFeathers said...

We are still in a very very race conscious world, we probably don't talk about it or pretend its not such an issue but as much as Precious is a human story and I have read of crazier things in some parts of white America- the movie was done by blacks, with blacks, in a Black neighborhood....only so many non black people will care or bother to see it.. so is the same with The princess and the frog. what would be the message for White america? they already have their princess and the frog story--the original right? this was a twist to have a new black princess so little black girls can identify.. I am not sure we are crossing over anywhere. (did I go off topic? :) Love the post tho.. gave me something to think about.

David.фаворит Бога номер-один said...

hmm...???
*zips mouth*

LucidLilith said...

YES. Race has a lot to do with it. My significant other who is white and not at all racist (after all he is dating me) refused to watch Next Day Air because he said it was a 'black movie' and not his type of movie. I was like WTF. It's a comedy!!! And has white people in it., So I refused to watch The Hangover with him 'cus it was a white movie. He got my point.

LucidLilith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TayneMent said...

lmaoo@ Lucid. You go girl..but emm Hangover is awesome sha.

Kate said...

Uh-oh..i already see myself getting in trouble for this one.
Ok..i haven't seen precious..i'm sure i will eventually when it comes out on TV.
I'm not a huge fan of comedies..and most black movies are comedies and that is honestly why I think i don't watch black movies.

It would be interesting to see what % of money made by black people for white movies is and compare that to how much precious made to see if it is similar.

As far as NONRACIST white people not seeing Precious, it could be because they feel they can't relate to the story..i dunno. Sometimes..MOST times i feel like i can't relate to some black movies.

@ princess and the frog... i mean..how much were they projecting? what were these projections based on? it's a recession yo..we broke. what was the last disney movie cartoon and did it make more than "projected"?

eh..that ya dog with it's tongue out is scary!

TayneMent said...

From what you said about not relating to the black movies, I assume you relate to white movies and I find it amusing when I hear Nigerians infer that they relate more to white people than black people. When people watch scifi movies is it because they relate to being an alien or the storyline counts? When you say you will not watch Precious(till it comes out on TV) and it is not a "black comedy" is it because the characters are black, therefore it is automatic dismissal? To my knowledge, abuse is color blind and shouldn't be relegated to race. I'd take " I don't want to watch a depressing movie/face that kind of harsh reality that is some people's lives" over not relating to it but I respect that it is a free country and noone has to watch anything they don't want to.

F and M said...

Hmmm... about Tyler Perry...I don't like his films cos they all seem to tell the same story... Broken woman finds man who disproves the horrible stereotype of the absentee-father/cheating/no-good black male stereotype. He helps her rediscover herself and they live happily ever after. We need a new story line.

About why these movies with black characters seem to make less money and receive less support, it is difficult to say. I mean the travesty that is The Wire's lack of award recognition for instance is one which cannot go unnoticed... But then does this mean that race is always a determining factor in these things? It's difficult to say...

MPB said...

I watched Precious with a white guy, and he found it "amusing" and "okay". It did not seem like he was going to be recommending the movie to his friends. Mostly blacks in the theater too. Personally, i would give Precious a 6-7/10. Not like you asked for my rating. I thought the story line was poignant and should transcend race 'cos it can affect anyone. I just found the acting skills of the actors overhyped. Half of the time it felt like precious was mumbling and I had to strain to hear her. I would like to know the answer to kate's question about what the projections for princess and the frog were and how the last disney movie did. I love animation, but I wont pay $10 to watch it in the theater....so i wonder if tha's the case with most people and not bcause teh xters are black.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

great post.

I am one of probably many that did not watch Precious and probably never will. Why? It just does not appeal to the person I am. I don't have a lot of time to watch movies at the theater and when I do, it usually is not drama.

That being said, I think that the movie might have done better if it had actors that were recognizable to the larger audience (i.e. white folks). But that is just my humble opinion.

However, you are definitely right that 'black movies', get the shaft, maybe except for Spike Lee's Inside Man which although its main character, Denzel Washington and a main supporting character, Chiwetel, were clearly black, it ended up being Spike's best box office hit. I posit it was because the movie was made for a larger audience (not necessarily white) - action, suspense etc.

As such, I wonder if 'black' movies will typically do better if they are 1) not sold to the audience as 'black', 2) aren't heavy on issues, 3) feature well recognized actors that have crossed-over.

No matter the case, that will make it difficult for smaller black films to break through, but hopefully those films will continue to be created because even if they don't win the box office race, they clearly bring a lot to the table. And, i say that as someone who didn't watch Precious, but appreciated the discourse it generated.

Anyway, forgive my ramblings and the LONG comment. Great post, again. It definitely made me think and this why I try to not leave as many comments because I just keep yarning....

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