‘Best Man Holiday’ Almost Didn’t Get Funding! Find Out Why Black Films Have Difficulty Getting Financed

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November 21, 2013 ‐ By Kimberly Gedeon

the-best-man-3With all the buzz and praise surrounding Best Man Holiday, can you believe the film barely made it to the silver screen? Investors were hesitant about funding the all-black cast movie. They labeled it too “depressing” and too much of a departure from its 15-year-old sequel, Florida Courier reports.

Malcolm D. Lee, the writer-director behind the box office hit, had to resort to a lot of persuasion to convince financiers to back the sequel. It was only after a table-read, a run-through of the script with the cast, that investors relented and supported Best Man Holiday.

“I remember one of the executives saying: ‘Listening to Terrence Howard deliver dialogue live, out loud, can really turn people around,’” Lee said.

He adds, however, that if it weren’t for wave of Black films in recent years, Best Man Holiday might not have existed. Lee referred to the 2008 to 2011 time slot as the “Black Movie” desert — a three-year dry spell for actors of color. But 2013, in his eyes, couldn’t have been a more convenient time to pitch the sequel.

A few years back, Lee says, “I’ve had many, many people declare that Black movies are dead. Except for Tyler Perry movies.” Now, he says, “We’re seeing a gaggle of ‘em.”

Lately, as we’ve seen a myriad of triumphant films featuring a predominant Black cast (such as Fruitvale Station and Think Like a Man), Lee alludes that he’s profited from their success by scoring funding from hesitant investors. But film flops such as Just Wright, Soul Men, and Miracle at St. Anna’s, FLCourier adds, have caused investor’s to avert their eyes away from African-American casts in the film industry.

“Both hits and misses [from all-black cast films] are analyzed unduly, because there aren’t enough of them,” it says.

Despite the boom in Black film, like Jumping the Broom grossing $37 million on a $6.6 million budget and Think Like a Man reeling in $96 million on a $12 million budget, Hollywood executives are still reluctant to put their money on all-black cast movies. They’re more at ease with tent poles — movies, that without a doubt, are expected to “hold up” and bring in the dough.

Will Packer, the film director behind the upcoming Think Like a Man Too, using a baseball analogy, says the film business is fueled by “grand slams, not singles and doubles.” He adds that Hollywood execs neglect to consider that America is a diverse marketplace.

“You can’t effectively run a full-service Hollywood studio right now without having content that appeals to that diversity,” Packer explains.

“Look at the numbers for “Think Like a Man.” Consider the results for “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which cost around $30 million to make and has grossed around $140 million. The audience is there,” Florida Courier says.

Fortunately, as Lee says we’re out of the “Black movie desert” and Packer predicts that if all-black cast films continue to produce quality films such as The Butler and 12 Years a Slave, the black film industry will be bursting with support.

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  • Ben Cane

    My thoughts on the matter as a young writer/actor who is a black young man. I must agree with most of these comments, we stick to romance, comedy, and civil rights/slavery. To be honest I get sick of it because it seems so predictable some how. I don’t really like that, and another thing, I’m not racist i love white people have plenty of them as friend, but can someone tell me what makes scandal so great? It’s predictable to me as well, and I know she’s the only woman of color as a lead role on TV right now being really viewed by a big audience, but why is it that it took her being the secret mistress to a white president for the show to be a big hit? I mean people honestly need to think of these things. We are feeding into interracial love affairs before solid black relationships in our movies and shows that make hits. That harms more than help, shouldn’t we promote more black love and show being with your own race isn’t bad. I mean dating outside your race isn’t bad either, but sometimes they make us seem like the villain. Do you notice that a black actress to have great success in the white movie industry she has to be in multiple interracial relationships in many movies E.G. Halle Barry, Zoe Saldana, Kerry Washington, they even tried pushing it on Beyonce for a point in time.These are just my observations, but thank you for the article.

    • rainbow

      Definitely need more diversity

  • rainbow

    So why is it when white films do poorly, nobody says we should not create films with too many white people, it might flop, but they do it with black films? White privilege indeed

    • MNAuthorKim

      You see, Hollywood execs see all-white films as having a broader appeal. While both white and black audiences will flock to go see Thor 2 or Man of Steel, you definitely can’t say the same for Jumping the Broom or Baggage Claim. Unfortunately, white audience attendance plummets (Like Best Man Holiday, 87 percent of the audience was black!).

      But what this article is saying that there’s a huge market for films like Best Man Holiday and we will spend the money. Films will either be a hit or miss, regardless of color. But execs are willing to take a risk on white films, just because of its “broader appeal.” White privilege indeed.

      • Cuddy Sark

        Exactly. It’s taken for granted that we will go see Thor 2 or Mad Max because we like action/sci-fi/comedy/whatever movies even if there isn’t a person of color to be seen. Everybody does. But as soon as you make the cast race-specific, it becomes an issue, not because of the execs’ distaste but because of the audiences’ and it’s reflected in the ticket sales and bottom line. It’s all about the money and whites have the upper hand because they have the money to make whatever movie they want so they have more viewing options. Unfortunately,, we’re stuck with dumb romantic comedies that even we barely like or slave/civil rights movies that show us at our lowest points (and ironically but not surprisingly those are the movies whites will flock to).

        • MNAuthorKim

          Ain’t that the truth! Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see an action/adventure all-black cast film? Rom-coms and Black oppression movies are tired.

          Thanks for commenting!

          • Cuddy Sark

            Well if whites were willing to pay to see that kind of movie, Im sure we would have them but obviously that’s not happening. And none of these black directors, famous and afluent black actors or producers are willing to put up their own money to see that happen either. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie or George Clooney would put up their own money for a major black film of substance before Denzel or Samuel L. Jackson would.

    • Nicole

      And let the church say Amen!!!

    • Courtney Banks

      Because when it comes to “white films” such as Thor, Star Trek, Insidious etc… everyone will go and see it, even POC.. But when it comes to a majority black cast, whites can’t be bothered, because they’re racist…

      • rainbow

        My thoughts indeed. In general, they only like to see themselves on tv, no-one else. What’s up with that white people? Why must you insist on only seeing yourselves?

      • scandalous7

        not necessarily racism. I think they feel like they wont relate and it honestly does not interest them.

      • Cuddy Sark

        I don’t think it’s racism as much as it’s that we’ve grown up our whole lives seeing everything not just from our perspective bt from whites’ too. They’ve rarely seen things from our side or from the side of other minorities because they don’t have to, so they don’t go out of their way. It’s like taking a foreign language in high school. It’s never a required class so only a small percentage of students actually ever take it seriously and only because they think it might get them ahead in life or career rather than out of any curiosity or love for a different culture. Also don’t forget our movies tend to be fairly limited in subject matter. I mean how many romantic comedies are we gonna make? At least in the 80-90s we had more dramatic movies even though it was mostly thug & gangsta movies and we complained about them daily.

        And face it; how many of you have ever sat and watched an indian or moroccan film? I have but that’s because I’m a film buff. Im sure some people here have too but I highly doubt the average black person has ever sat and watched many foreign films (or anything with subtitles) that didn’t include martial arts especially if the subject matter is centered on the specific culture of the actors. Its not just whites who can’t be bothered.

        • rainbow

          I have watched Indian films. Kuch kuch hotta hai being my favorite. It seems to me that white people are very closed minded

    • Cuddy Sark

      Because it’s the white man’s machine so they can make as many flops as they want and make sequels to those too. That’s just the way it is so it makes no sense to keep crying to them and blaming them for black films poor performances. The problem with most black movies is they’re geared toward one demographic so other cultures aren’t interested in coming to theaters to see them unless it can offer some kind of entertainment value (action, dancing). Otherwise, no one other than us are interested in how black people interact with one another in a movie. That’s why you don’t often see black lead actors romantically involved with black women in big blockbuster movies. It’s usually a white, asian or latina woman. Or sometimes a multi-racial woman.

      • MNAuthorKim

        But how strange it is that the Black populace doesn’t seem to mind spending $13 to watch how White people interact with each other…

        • Cuddy Sark

          Well then we’d never get to see such cool movies as The Godfather or Reservoir Dogs where coincidentally the white characters talk disparagingly about black people.

          But seriously, we don’t have much choice. There are few great black movies being made and they know it which is why they cast who they want in their movies without regard for what we want to see or how our characters are portrayed.

No thanks