All Articles Tagged "movies"

Chris Rock’s “Top Five”: Boxed In Versus Breaking Out At The Box Office

December 19th, 2014 - By Candace Smith
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PNP/WENN.com

PNP/WENN.com

Chris Rock’s latest movie, Top Five, opened last weekend in 979 theaters, amassing $7.2 million dollars. It did not best Christian Bale’s Exodus: Gods and Kings, which was the number one film, pulling in $24.5 million for the same weekend. But Top Five emerged as the number four movie in America, a significant feat for Rock, who is the movie’s director, writer, as well as leading man. These numbers indicate the comedian’s potential to be a Woody Allen-esque figure, of sorts, for African-American moviegoers, following in the footsteps of other African-American silver screen savants like Robert Townsend and Spike Lee.

In the past decade there have been few intelligent, forward-thinking comedies starring, directed, and/or written by an African-American male or female. This year we were treated to Justin Simien’s Dear White People, which has been nominated for NAACP Image and Film Independent Spirit awards, among others.

It often appears that “thinking man” comedies are created by the Jason Reitmans and Julie Delpys of the world, whereas African-Americans are treated to movies like Soul Plane and Norbit. There is nothing wrong with slapstick comedy or the Tyler Perry Madea movies that have made him a millionaire. Still, the contemporary mammie, coon, and buck roles that African Americans have sought to diminish in the filmmaking landscape throughout history carry on and present themselves today. Perry’s last Madea movie, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, grossed a total of $52,543,354 at the box office. With numbers like that, Hollywood would be less concerned about the praise of critics, especially with A Madea Christmas being the latest installment of a mile long string of Madea flicks produced over the years.

Chris Rock is well aware of how Hollywood works and how the divide between White and Black Hollywood translates and constructs box office hits and misses. “It’s a White industry. Just as the NBA is a Black industry. I’m not even saying it’s a bad thing. It just is,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.  African Americans in Hollywood, no matter what position, are at the mercy of stereotyping and racial groupthink, which affects the types of films they are expected to consume and generate.

To further illustrate this point, look toward the existing Sony hacking scandal, the gift that just keeps on giving. Even the racial biases of renowned producer Scott Rudin and chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Amy Pascal, were revealed in a spread of email messages between the two “discussing” Obama’s movie preferences. “Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” wrote Pascal. “12 YEARS”, replied Rudin. “Or the butler. Or think like a man?” Pascal asked. “Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”, Rudin then stated. (For the record, Obama’s favorite movie of 2014 is “Boyhood”, starring Ethan Hawke.) The reception for Chris Rock’s Top Five at this year’s Toronto Film Festival and the studio bidding war to acquire the film proves that a comedy of this ilk is wanted and that a good story knows no color lines.

Top Five won’t be able to eradicate the ghettoization of black films within the Hollywood movie system, and we are not trying to imply that it can. Instead, we can infer that Rock’s newest movie is another small step in the direction of presenting Black males who are funny without wearing a dress or being overtly hammy. Critics talk, but money talks louder. Smart businesspeople, such as Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst for BoxOffice.com, know that a movie’s success should not be solely evaluated by its opening weekend numbers.

“You can’t judge a movie like ‘Exodus’ or ‘Top Five’ based on their opening weekends. There’s a lot of time between Christmas and New Year’s for a film to pop, and compared to last year, there aren’t as many adult-skewing titles,” he said. A film like Top Five, which is being hailed as one of Chris Rock’s finest in years, is not in a bad position opening at number four, having being up against present blockbusters and animated movies like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1n and Exodus: Gods and Kings. (It cost $10 million to make and was bought by Paramount Pictures for $12.5 million.)

What remains to be seen is its global appeal, cumulative sum totals of ticket sales over the holiday season and beyond, and future studio support for intelligent comedies led by African-American talent.

However, let us keep in mind that Chris Rock has gained the respect of many industry tastemakers and gatekeepers with Top Five and this can only inspire him and other comedians like him to keep keepin’ on. On the whole, African-American filmmakers should be mindful that a balance of great storytelling and Hollywood industry acumen is fundamental. Like Rock and his film Top Five, showing film industry power executives that breaking out of the creativity box is a risk worth taking to the box office.

Get In The Holiday Spirit! 10 High Grossing Christmas Movies

December 10th, 2014 - By Tanvier Peart
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Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Rankin Bass Productions 1964

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Rankin/Bass Productions, 1964)

Are you excited for the upcoming holidays? It’s a wonderful time of year with exciting decorations and much needed time with your family. Hopefully you can steal a moment away from your shopping endeavors to kick back and relax. Those looking for a fun night in with the family should take a look at these popular Christmas movies.

New Ways To Define Black Beauty: A Christmas Shopping Guide

December 9th, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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Thanks to documentaries like Dark Girls and Good Hair, black women are enjoying more positive self-images than ever. This holiday season, we’re sharing the good word on black beauty with these inspirational Christmas gifts.

Image Source: Doubleday

Image Source: Doubleday

Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats

We love Michael Cunninghams beautiful portraits and their power to transform anyone who flips through it back home to their roots.

Each beautiful woman featured shares intimate moments of their lives that celebrate this particularly colorful part of black tradition.

#GetUsedToIt: Iconic Black Sci-Fi Characters That The Genre Couldn’t Do Without

December 1st, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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Have you seen the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer? Even if sci-fi isn’t your thing, we all felt a disturbance in the force when haters slammed the trailer for heavily featuring black actor John Boyega. John was so upset about the backlash, he Instagrammed #GetUsedToIt. And we couldn’t agree more.

We’re not exactly sure why some people are acting like they’ve never seen a black person in a sci-fi film before, but we thought we’d remind them of these iconic characters that the genre couldn’t do without.

Can The Box Office Finish With A Bang? 10 Movies Coming To Theaters In December

December 1st, 2014 - By Tanvier Peart
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The Interview, Columbia Pictures 2014

The Interview (Columbia Pictures, 2014)

It’s no secret the box office has been lagging when it comes to sales. Even with the success of The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay, Part I (it has already grossed over $480 million worldwide), numbers continue to fall short. Hoping to gain patrons over Thanksgiving break, it’s estimated sales only reached $163 million over the long weekend compared to last year’s $208 million.

Are folks no longer interested in paying money to see movies on the big screen? Movie execs are hoping the answer is no. Here’s a list of 10 films making their debut this month. Maybe one will excite you enough to head to a theater.

The Interview opens Christmas Day.

Disappointed Or Not Surprised? 10 Movies & TV Programs That Failed To Deliver

November 17th, 2014 - By Tanvier Peart
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Beyond the Lights (Relativity Media, 2014)

Beyond the Lights (Relativity Media, 2014)

This year has been full of television shows, biopics, TV movies and box office duds. Sure there were many projects we enjoyed that couldn’t bring the numbers, but some things probably should have remained just an idea. Here are 10 of many projects that failed to deliver.

The Industry’s Not For Everyone: Stars Who Left Hollywood For Regular Jobs

November 11th, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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Would you leave Hollywood to become a contractor? Or to be a stay-at-home mom? Meet the stars who left Hollywood for regular jobs.

Image Source: WENN.com

Image Source: WENN.com

Jack Gleeson: Student

Everyone’s least favorite king of Westeros told Entertainment Weekly that he’s quit acting for good. Why? He says it’s just not fun anymore.

“It was always something I did for recreation with my friends, or in the summer for some fun. I enjoyed it. When you make a living from something, it changes your relationship with it. It’s not like I hate it, it’s just not what I want to do.”

What’s he up to now? The Game of Thrones star says he’s going to finish his final year of school and then get his graduate degree (but we think he’ll be back).

The Best Movie Soundtracks

November 11th, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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From Purple Rain to Frozen, these are some of the best movie soundtracks eve made. Because movies are always better when you can sing along.

Image Source: Tumblr.com

Image Source: Tumblr.com

Waiting To Exhale

The only thing better than watching Waiting to Exhale is listening to the sound track.

Shoop Shoop? Let It Flow? Not Gon’ Cry? They’re all R&B classics, and Babyface wrote every last one.

Thrill Ride: The Greatest Horror Movies Of The Last 15 Years

October 30th, 2014 - By M A
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Promotional Poster

Promotional Poster

From ghosts and goblins to terror that is much more based in reality, horror movies of the late 90s and 00s have sent shivers down our spines. And with Halloween just around the corner, we thought there was no better time than now to roll out our picks for some of the most cringe-worthy, terrifying, bone-chilling movies of the past 15 years.

‘Dear White People’ Helps Score One Of The Year’s Best Indie Box Office Weekends

October 21st, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Dear White People

Dear White People

Did you go see Dear White People over the weekend? Well, a lot of people are curious about the Justin Simien flick and it along with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman gave the year’s best weekend for indie’s at the box office.

Even though both had limited debuts, they turned out great numbers. In fact, Birdman had one of the best limited debuts of all time. It took in an impressive $415,000 from just four theaters (yes, only four!) to average $103,750. “That makes it one of only 10 live action films to average north of $100,000, and the company it joins is pretty impressive: The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom, Dreamgirls, American Hustle, Brokeback Mountain, Precious, Blue Jasmine  and Inside Llewyn Davis,” reports Indiewire.

Dear White People opened in 11 theaters this weekend and grossed $344,136, averaging an amazing $31,285.  The Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate film was sold out many of its theaters. The success was due in part to creative social media marketing.

“We created an event with Dear White People via continuous social media engagement, complemented with traditional PR and college outreach that attracted a young and diverse audience to theaters,” Roadside’s Howard Cohen said. “Exit polls showed 77 percent of the audience was in the 21 to 39 age range, with 29 percent between the ages of 21 to 24 — younger than the typical specialty-film audience.”

Dear White People expands to 350 theaters in the top 75 markets on October 24th. The film is sparking a lot of conversation and buzz. The movie “is an ensemble piece set at the fictional Winchester University, where four black students with opposing points-of-view struggle to find their identities on a mostly white campus,” reports Complex.

Starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zack Galifianakis,  Naomi Watts, Amy Ryan, and Andrea Riseborough, Birdman is a black comedy about an actor who is famous for portraying an iconic superhero but is about to star in a serious Broadway play. It will add 18 new markets  on October 24, bringing its total theater count to 45 to 50 locations.

Below is an interview that Dear White People director Justin Simien recently did with Stephen Colbert.