April 25, 2012

Think Like a Man shatters Hollywood myths

These points apply to Native films too.

“Think Like a Man” shatters box office myths about black films

By T.F. CharltonEnsemble romantic comedy Think Like a Man is generating lots of buzz after ending The Hunger Games’ month-long run as #1 at the box office (despite playing in much fewer theaters), and almost doubling initial projections of its opening weekend take. The film’s success challenges conventional Hollywood wisdom about the limited profitability and appeal of movies with predominantly black casts. Though the racial breakdown of audiences who viewed Think Like a Man this weekend is unknown, its unexpected box office haul suggests that the movie had a significant degree of “crossover” appeal.

To be fair, it’s true that white viewers tend to be less interested in movies with a significant minority presence. But while the industry loves to put the marginalization of such “niche” films solely on white audiences and claim the bottom line as the only reason the business isn’t more diverse, this is is just one piece of the puzzle. White audiences don’t see themselves as the intended audience for minority films, but much of this can be attributed to marketing and distribution that focuses exclusively on minority audiences.

Subtle and overt racism in the form of limited financing, marketing, and distribution–or simple refusal to green light certain projects, as with Red Tails–work to ensure that white audiences who might be interested in these films never see them. The assumption that such movies have limited appeal turns out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy when they don’t receive the same exposure to a broad range of audiences as comparable movies with predominantly or all white casts.

Here’s the funny thing–despite Hollywood concerns about losing money on “niche” films, there’s a strong case to be made that the industry’s insistence that black films can’t be “crossover successes” dulls the ability of studios to make smart financial decisions about which projects to invest in, and how. The unwillingness to put as much into minority films or market them as aggressively as white films could very well be costing studios money.
Comment:  Ironically, The Hunger Games should've had a dark-skinned lead actor too. The books described Katniss the protagonist as having olive-colored skin.

If it had had a minority lead, it would've been the movie shattering Hollywood's myths. Same with Avatar, Twilight, or any other blockbuster. They succeeded with minorities in supporting roles and they would've succeeded with minorities in lead roles.

For more on the subject, see Minorities Buy More Movie Tickets and "Bottom Line" Argument Is Racist.

Below:  "Gabrielle Union, one of the stars of Think Like a Man."

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