‘Empire’ Is The First Show With A Black Cast Since ‘The Cosby Show’ To Be A Success In Overseas Markets

May 8, 2015  |  

Empire is now sold out in virtually every major territory worldwide,” reports The Hollywood Reporter. From Germany to Poland to Japan to South Africa, the show’s success here in the US has translated into success in overseas markets. This makes Empire the first program with a Black cast to successfully traverse the world in 30 years. The last was The Cosby Show.

As television has become more diverse here, so it has been abroad where programming with a Black lead character is usually a tough sell. Black-ish, How to Get Away With Murder and 50 Cents show Power have also made inroads abroad.

“I think [Empire] will resonate with Britain’s black community, certainly, but it has the potential to cut through and draw a much broader audience,” Jay Hunt, chief creative officer at Channel 4, told THR. For many international markets, diversity is not a big concern, though it has come up more pointedly in the UK.

“In the end, the global success, or failure, of this new crop of U.S. series will come down to a myriad of factors, including local competition, individual time slots and regional tastes,” the magazine writes. “But with the sheer number of primetime series being snatched up internationally, it seems it’s more a question of when, not if, we will again see a global hit featuring an African-American cast.”

We interviewed Michael B. Jordan and Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler last year, in which they talked about their experience at the Cannes International Film Festival and how warmly welcomed they were by the global film community. Part of the issue, they pointed out, was just exposing people to the stories. Who doesn’t love a good story?

“People are very interested in experiences that are outside the box for them, but it has to be presented and marketed,” said Coogler. This could be a first step for television.

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