"Rock the box office" was the battle cry heard this weekend, as Black audiences turned out by the busloads to support the opening of Red Tails. The blockbuster raked in 19.4 million dollars in its first few days, grossing 6 million on Friday's opening night. Despite mixed reviews from both critics and audiences alike, the Lucasfilm/Twentieth Century Fox Film showed studio executives just how lucrative an all-Black cast could be. This box office success was a long time coming for executive producer George Lucas who conceived of the film in 1988 and has been investing millions of his own money to produce and distribute the film.
Discussions on the lack of Black films in Hollywood have been reignited once again by the release of Red Tails; Lucas has gone on the interview circuit and accused studios of doubting the profitability of movies with Black casts. Opinions on whether or not supporting Black films at the box office would directly result in the production of more quality films featuring our people have been widely debated as well. In a blog post on the topic, author dream hampton writes, "Ignore Lucas’ thin hysteria too, the box office returns of Red Tails will mean little to the future of Black films or their budgets. Hollywood will continue to undervalue us, and not unlike the men of the 332nd Fighter Group, Black filmmakers will continue to do the work to lift our stories off the ground."
Did you see Red Tails this weekend? As Black audiences are we solely responsible for the success or fail of black films at the box-office? Or should we hold Black films to the same standards as every other film?