Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts

Friday, August 09, 2019

Brian Banks in Theaters Today

Brian Banks is being released in theaters today.

The movie is the inspirational true story of Brian Banks, an all-American high school football star who finds his life upended when he's wrongly convicted of a crime he didn't commit. Despite the lack of evidence, Banks gets railroaded through a broken justice system and sentenced to a decade of prison and probation. Years later, with the support of Justin Brooks and the California Innocence Project, Banks fights to reclaim his life and fulfill his dreams of playing in the NFL.

The movie is directed by Tom Shadyac and stars Aldis Hodge as Brian Banks, Greg Kinnear , Melanie Liburd, Xosha Roquemore,Tiffany Dupont, Sherri Shepherd, Jose Miguel Vasquez, and Morgan Freeman.


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Harriet Tubman movie coming November 1, 2019

Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, HARRIET tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.

HARRIET is set to be released November 1, 2019 and was directed by Kasi Lemons.

The Focus Features film stars Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman, Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles, and Clarke Peters.


Sunday, June 09, 2019

Sony Pictures Renames Theater In Honor of John Singleton

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) today announced the renaming of one of the largest theaters on its Culver City lot to honor Academy and Emmy Award-nominated director, screenwriter and producer John Singleton, who passed away in April.

Singleton made history when, at age 24, he became the youngest person and the first African-American to be nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Director, an honor he received for his work on his 1991 debut feature, Boyz N the Hood, a film he made for Sony Pictures’ Columbia Pictures label. Singleton’s next two films, Poetic Justice and Higher Learning, were also for Columbia, as was 2001’s Baby Boy. His prolific filmography also includes the films Rosewood, Shaft, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Four Brothers, and Abduction. Singleton also received an Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Director for a limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special for American Crime Story (Episode: The Race Card) in 2016.

"As the first African American filmmaker to earn an Academy Award® nomination for Best Director, John broke a major barrier in our industry and inspired a generation," said Tom Rothman, Chairman of Sony Picture’s Motion Picture Group. "His vision and skill enriched the world with great film and television content and he leaves a tremendous legacy, especially here at Columbia Pictures. We are honored to memorialize him in this way and look forward to dedicating the new theater with his friends and family later this summer."

"We are so pleased that Sony Pictures will be honoring our father in this way," said Justice and Maasai Singleton. "It is such a fitting tribute given the special place that Columbia Pictures was for him at the beginning of his career. The studio system was incredibly supportive of him in his work, which is something he deeply appreciated. This is especially touching for us. As children we were often brought to the lot while our father worked. Those days were fun and educational, and laid the groundwork for our own careers today."

Formerly the Backstage Theater, the newly renamed John Singleton Theater is the studio’s primary employee and public screening theater on the Culver City lot. The 102-seat theater – one of the studio’s largest – is in the heart of the lot and is used by filmmakers to screen their work in post-production and is the main theater used for employee screenings and special public and VIP screenings. With 5.1 sound and a Christie CP4220 4K projector, the theater is equipped with advanced technology and can screen in all playback formats including Digital Cinema Packages, Real-D 3D, 35 mm and 70 mm film, visual FX (DPX) files, Avid Media files, among others.

Monday, May 13, 2019




National headlines blazed the story: Churchgoers Gunned Down During Prayer Service in Charleston, South Carolina. After a 21-year-old white supremacist opened fire in the church, nine African Americans lay dead—leaving their families and the nation to grapple with this senseless act of terror.

Forty-eight hours later, in the midst of unspeakable grief and suffering, the families of the Emanuel Nine stood in court facing the killer … and offered words of forgiveness. Their demonstration of grace ushered the way for hope and healing across a city and the nation.

It’s the story that rocked a city and a nation as it happened … and in the days that followed. Marking the fourth anniversary of the event, executive producers Stephen Curry and Viola Davis, co-producer Mariska Hargitay, and director Brian Ivie (The Drop Box) present EMANUEL. The documentary powerfully weaves the history of race relations in Charleston, the significance and impact of Mother Emanuel Church, and the hope that somehow emerges in the aftermath.

Featuring intimate interviews with survivors and family members, EMANUEL is a poignant story of justice and faith, love and hate, examining the healing power of forgiveness. Marking the fourth anniversary, EMANUEL will be in movie theaters across the country for two nights only: June 17 and 19.

Find theaters and get tickets here: Emanuel In Theaters

Friday, May 03, 2019

Bolden: where The Music Began in theaters today!

BOLDEN, is drama directed by Dan Pritzker, imagines the compelling, powerful and tragic journey of Buddy Bolden, the unsung American hero who invented Jazz. With little biographical information known and no found recordings of his music, the film’s narrative composes fragmented memories of his past, against the political and social context in which his revolutionary music was conceived.

Starring Gary Carr as Bolden with original music written, arranged and performed by Wynton Marsalis, BOLDEN invites you to experience a world fueled by passion, greed and musical genius, in early 1900s New Orleans. The film co-stars Erik LaRay Harvey, Yaya DaCosta, Ian McShane and Michael Rooker.

Not just content to handle al of the musical duties associated with the film, Wynton Marsalis is also an executive producer on the film.

BOLDEN stars Gary Carr, Erik LaRay Harvey, Yaya DaCosta, Reno Wilson, Karimah Westbrook, JoNell Kennedy, Robert Ri’chard, Serena Reeder with Michael Rooker and Ian McShane .

For a complete list of the cities BOLDEN is playing in click here: BOLDEN Cities and Showtimes


Sunday, March 24, 2019

Jordan Peele's ‘Us’ exceeds expectations with $70 million opening weekend

By George L. Cook III African American Reports.

'Us', Jordan Peele's followup up to his 2017 hit 'Get Out' exceeded all expectations by grossing an estimated $70 million plus in its opening weekend.

Early projections varied from $40 to $60 million. The $70 million weekend was an outstanding launch for the film which had a budget of $20 million.

'Us’ now has the third highest grossing horror film weekend behind only "It" which opened with $123.4 million and "Halloween (2018)" which launched with 76.2 million.

'Us’ will pass the $100 mark and should have no problem reaching and $150 million mark. The questions are with the movie's polarizing ending does it gross more than the $176 million 'Get Out' made or does it pass $200 million domestically because of repeated viewings by those trying to decipher the ending?

'Us’ was by written, produced, and directed by Jordan Peele.

The movie stars Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Evan Alex .

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Nzingha Stewart to direct Misty Copeland biopic, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina

New Line's Misty Copeland biopic, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, has found its director in Nzingha Stewart.

The feature project adapts Copeland's best-selling memoir of the same name from the star dancer who became the first African-American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre.

The movie will chronicle Copeland's rise from her poor and tumultuous beginnings — she only began ballet at the late age of 13 and found herself in the middle of a custodial struggle between her mother and the ballet teachers who were her legal guardians at the time — to becoming a crossover star that has written books, appeared in movies and commercials, and has become a speaker.

"As an African-American woman, I know firsthand that when Misty Copeland leaps, we all soar," said Stewart in a statement. "As a filmmaker, I am thrilled to bring this hopeful, triumphant and cinematic story to the big screen."

Stewart is a prolific television director and has worked on shows ranging from How to Get Away With Murder and Scandal to Grey's Anatomy and A Million Little Things. She was also an exec producer on Tyler Perry's drama For Colored Girls. She is currently filming her feature directorial debut with Tall Girl, a coming-of-age story for Netflix.


Saturday, February 23, 2019

If Beale Street Could Talk wins 'Best Feature' at 34th annual Spirit Awards

Barry Jenkins film adaption of James Baldwin's If Beale Street Could Talk won the award for Best Feature at the 34th annual Spirit Awards. Watch Jenkins award speech below:

Barry Jenkins film also took home two more honors with Regina King winning the award for Best Supporting Female and Mr. Jenkins himself winning in the Best Director category.

The Spirit Awards were founded in 1994 to recognize the talent both in front of and behind the camera in independent films.

Check out a complete list of the winners here:

Thursday, February 21, 2019

2019 American Black Film Festival to be held in Miami Beach June 12–16

The 23rd annual American Black Film Festival will be held in Miami Beach June 12–16, 2019. Learn more, get passes and tickets here: 
The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) is an annual event dedicated to empowering black artists and showcasing quality film and television content by and about people of African descent. Committed to the belief that diverse artists deserve the same opportunities as their mainstream counterparts, ABFF founder Jeff Friday conceived the festival in 1997 as a vehicle to strengthen the black filmmaking community by encouraging resource sharing, education and artistic collaboration. He ultimately envisioned it as a cornerstone of diversity in Hollywood.
For more than two decades the festival has been a platform for emerging black artists — premiering the early work and showcasing the talent of many of today’s most successful actors, producers, writers, directors and stand-up comedians — including Halle Berry (Monsters Ball), Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Anthony Anderson (Black-ish), Will Packer (Girls Trip), Issa Rae (Insecure), Kevin Hart (Night School), Kerry Washington (Scandal), Omari Hardwick (Power) and Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II). ABFF is the pre-eminent pipeline for black artists in front of and behind the camera, and has significantly expanded the range of talent working in entertainment.
As “the nation’s largest gathering of black film and television enthusiasts” the festival attracts a broad audience of A-list talent, emerging artists, upscale consumers and industry stakeholders. Approximately 7,000 to 10,000 people travel to Miami Beach each year for the event. The five-day festival opens with the premiere of an upcoming Hollywood release followed by independent film screenings, master classes, panels, celebrity talks, live entertainment, and a variety of networking and hospitality events.
The ABFF’s dynamic programming continues to evolve. In recent years, it has extended beyond the inclusion of television-related content to launch the Business of Entertainment seminar series co-programmed with leading media and technology companies.
In 2017, the ABFF launched its Greenlighters Academy, a pipeline program for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities with an interest in pursuing corporate careers in film, television and entertainment media. The 2019 festival will introduce About Women, a global initiative focused on empowering and inspiring women of color in the film and television industry. ABFF will also unveil a new section showcasing films based on cause-related topics impacting communities of color.
The American Black Film Festival is a property of ABFF Ventures LLC (ABFFV), a multifaceted entertainment company specializing in the production of live events, television and film focused on African American culture. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the company is a joint venture of Film Life Inc. and Black Enterprise, two prominent media and event companies, each with legacies of showcasing the best of African American culture and achievement.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

See Black Panther Free in movie theaters for one week only in honor of Black History Month

Oscar Best-Picture Nominee #BlackPanther returns to the big screen beginning February 1st and ending February 7th.

Fans of all ages can see the movie for free in honor of Black History Month at participating AMC Theaters.

Academy Award®-nominated “Black Panther” returns to the big screen to celebrate Black History Month for a one-week engagement, February 1-7, at 250 participating AMC Theatres locations.

Simply click here to find your state and claim your free tickets: Black Panther Tickets

Friday, January 25, 2019

‘BlacKkKlansman’ Returns to Theaters After Six Academy Award Nominations

“BlacKkKlansman,” Spike Lee’s crime drama about a black detective who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan, is heading back to theaters after picking up six Oscar nominations.

The film will be re-released in 168 theaters across the country this weekend. “BlacKkKlansman” will play in over 30 states, including New York, California, and Florida. Academy members will be allowed in showings free of charge with their membership card.

Focus Features initially released “BlacKkKlansman” in theaters in August, where it debuted with $10.8 million — the third-best opening weekend of Lee’s career. It went on to earn $48.5 million at the domestic box office and $40.8 million overseas.

“BlacKkKlansman” recounts the true story of black detective Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), who goes undercover to expose the Colorado Springs chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. After over 30 years of making movies, “BlacKkKlansman” finally landed Lee a best director nomination, making him only the sixth black filmmaker to receive a nod in that category. If he wins, he would be the first black director to do so. He is also the first black writer to be nominated in the screenplay category more than once.


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Spike Lee gets first Oscar nomination

Spike Lee the legendary director of films such as 'She's gotta Have It' and 'Do The Right Thing' has finally been nominated for a 'Best Director' nomination from the Academy Awards.

Lee's film BlackKklansman which is based on the true story of a Black man who led an investigation into the Ku Klux Klan is nominated for six Oscars, including Best Director for Lee and Best Picture.

In 2015 received Lee an honorary Oscar for his contributions to film making. It is his only Oscar.

List of the 6 Oscar nominations for Spike Lee's film BlackKklansman:

Best Director.

Best Picture.

Best Supporting Actor.

Best Adapted Screenplay.

Best Original Music Score.

Best Film Editing.

The Oscars air February 24, 2019, 8:00 PM EST on ABC.

Monday, January 07, 2019


NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 7, 2019 – Shudder, AMC Networks’ premium streaming service for horror, thriller, and the supernatural, today announced the upcoming premiere of its first original documentary feature, Horror Noire: A History of Black HorrorBased on the acclaimed book of the same name by Dr. Robin R.  Means  Coleman,  Horror Noire takes  a critical look at a century of genre films that by turns utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and embraced both black filmmakers and black audiences.
The film features in-depth interviews with noted directors, writers, and actors, including Ernest Dickerson (Bones), Rusty Cundieff (Tales from the Hood), Jordan Peele (Us), Tina Mabry (Mississippi Damned), Tony Todd (Candyman), Paula Jai Parker (Tales from the Hood), Tananarive Due (My Soul to Keep), and Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman. Horror Noire will premiere exclusively on Shudder on Thursday, February 7, after special screening events in New York and Los Angeles earlier in the month.
“After I saw Oscar winner Jordan Peele’s Get Out, I created a UCLA class around Black Horror called The Sunken Place,” said executive producer Tananarive Due. “The text I recommended   was Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman’s Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to the Present. So I was so thrilled to help bring this story to life on the screen. Horror Noire is about the history of black horror films, but it’s also a testament to the power of representation and how horror is such a visceral way to fight racial trauma: our real pain and   fear, but from a safer distance – while we get stronger.”
“The horror genre is daring, unflinching pedagogy. It is like a syllabus of our social, political,        and racial world,” said executive producer Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman. “The horror film is fascinating if for no other reason than that it prides itself on snuggling up next to the taboo,     while confounding our sense of good and evil, the monstrous and divine, and the sacred and profane. It is one of the most intrepid of entertainment forms in its scrutiny of our humanity and our foibles. It is my sincere hope that Horror Noire will spark fierce debate and trigger even    more exacting, nuanced explorations into the power of horror.”
Beginning with the silent film era, Horror Noire explores the often overlooked and downplayed history of Black Americans in Hollywood: the emergence of black leading men in genre cinema       in the late ‘60s with Night of the Living Dead and into the ‘70s with Blacula and films of the blaxploitation era; Candyman and the growing popularity of urban horror in the 1990s; up to the genre’s recent resurgence with movies like the Oscar-winning, critical and commercial hit Get Out.
“There are messages of humanity and  survival  that  Black  storytellers  and  performers  have been expressing in horror since the genre’s beginning,” said Ashlee Blackwell, a producer and co-writer of Horror Noire as well as the founder and managing editor of Graveyard Shift Sisters, a website dedicated to the topic of Black women in horror. “It’s been an exciting journey to      work with a team to bring this once hidden history to life and out of the shadows.”
Horror Noire is adapted from Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman’s landmark influential 2011 book, Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present, a comprehensive chronological survey of the genre. Both book and film provide a unique social history of blacks in America as seen through their changing images in horror films.
Horror Noire features interviews with filmmakers and scholars, showcasing a who’s who of black horror cinema, from those who survived the genre’s past trends to those shaping its future.
The complete list of Horror Noire interviewees:
Ashlee Blackwell                          Creator,
Ernest Dickerson                          Director, BonesTales from the Crypt: Demon Knight
Jordan Peele                                Writer/ Director, Get Out, Us
Keith David                                  Actor, The Thing
Kelly Jo Minter                             Actor, The People Under the Stairs
Ken Foree                                     Actor, Dawn of the Dead
Ken Sagoes                                   Actor, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Loretta Devine                             Actor, Urban Legend
Mark H. Harris                              Creator,
Meosha Bean                               Filmmaker
Miguel A. Nuñez                          Actor, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
Monica Suriyage                          Filmmaker
Paula Jai Parker                           Actor, Tales from the Hood
Rachel True                                  Actor, The Craft
Richard Lawson                           Actor, Scream Blacula Scream
Robin R. Means Coleman, PhD   Author/ Educator
Rusty Cundieff                             Co-Writer/ Director, Tales from the Hood
Tananarive Due                           Author/ Educator
Tina Mabry                                   Writer/ Director, Mississippi Damned
Tony Todd                                    Actor, Candyman
William Crain                               Director, Blacula
Horror Noire is directed by Xavier Burgin, executive produced by Dr. Robin R. Means ColemanTananarive DueFangoria Editor-in-Chief Phil Nobile Jr and Kelly Ryan of Stage 3 Productions, and is produced and co-written by Ashlee Blackwell and Danielle Burrows.
Horror Noire is an important and timely documentary that explores an overlooked part of the horror genre that’s only just beginning to get the attention it deserves,” said Shudder’s general manager, Craig Engler. “We’re honored and thrilled to help bring this project to life and share it with the world.”
Ahead of its Shudder debut on February 7, Horror Noire will have its world premiere Friday, February 1, in collaboration with Beyond Fest and the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, CA, headlining two days of screenings with special guests in celebration of black horror. More information and tickets will be available soon at
Then on Monday, February 4, Horror Noire will have its east coast premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, followed by a panel conversation featuring executive producer Tananarive Due, writer/producer Ashlee Blackwell, filmmaker R. Shanea Williams, and comics writer Greg Anderson Elysee. The film will screen on a double bill with Rusty Cundieff’s 1995 classic, Tales from the Hood. Tickets for this special event will be on sale Monday, January 7 at


AMC Networks’ SHUDDER is a premium streaming video service, super-serving fans of all degrees with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering thrillers, suspense, and horror. SHUDDER’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available in the US, Canada,  UK, Ireland, and Germany on most streaming devices for 4.99/month or 49.99/year. To experience SHUDDER commitment-free for 7 days, visit

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Trailer for Jordan Peele's new horror film "Us"

Set in present day along the iconic Northern California coastline, Us, from Monkeypaw Productions, stars Oscar® winner Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson, a woman returning to her beachside childhood home with her husband, Gabe (Black Panther’s Winston Duke), and their two children (Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex) for an idyllic summer getaway.

Haunted by an unexplainable and unresolved trauma from her past and compounded by a string of eerie coincidences, Adelaide feels her paranoia elevate to high-alert as she grows increasingly certain that something bad is going to befall her family.

After spending a tense beach day with their friends, the Tylers (Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon), Adelaide and her family return to their vacation home. When darkness falls, the Wilsons discover the silhouette of four figures holding hands as they stand in the driveway. Us pits an endearing American family against a terrifying and uncanny opponent: doppelgängers of themselves.

Check out the trailer below:

Monday, December 17, 2018

"Eve's Bayou" to be inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry

The 1997 indie hit "Eve's Bayou," written and directed by Kasi Lemmons and co-produced by co-star Samuel L. Jackson has been named to a select group of America's most influential motion pictures to be inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress because of their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation’s film heritage.

The 1997 “Eve’s Bayou” was written and directed by Black female director Kasi Lemmons and co-produced by Samuel L. Jackson, who stars in this family drama. “It’s such an honor to return from production on my fifth film, ‘Harriet,’ to find that my first, ‘Eve’s Bayou,’ is being included in the National Film Registry,” Lemmons said. “As a Black woman filmmaker it is particularly meaningful to me, and to future generations of filmmakers, that the Library of Congress values diversity of culture, perspective and expression in American cinema and recognizes ‘Eve’s Bayou’ as worthy of preservation. I’m thrilled that ‘Eve’s Bayou’ is being included in the class of 2018!”

The Librarian makes the annual registry selections after conferring with the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB) and a cadre of Library specialists. Also considered were more than 6,300 titles nominated by the public.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Black Panther, Blackkklansman, and If Beale Street Could Talk nominated for Golden Globe best picture award

By George L. Cook II AfricanAmericanReports.Com

Nominations for the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards were announced on Thursday morning show live from the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Three films with black directors and predominantly black cast were nominated in the Golden Globes Best Picture-Drama category. Those three films are Black Panther (directed by Ryan Coogler) , Blackkklansman (directed by Spike Lee), and If Beale Street Could Talk (directed by Barry Jenkins).

Blackkklansman received three other nominations. The film was also nominated for best director (Spike Lee) best actor (John David Washington) and best-supporting actor (Adam Driver).

If Beale Street Could Talk also had Regina King nominated in the Best Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture and Barry Jenkins for Best Screenplay-Motion Picture (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)

Marvel's Black Panther was nominated in the Best Original Score category (Ludwig Goransson), Best Original Song-Motion Picture for the Kendrick Lamar and SZA song "All the Stars."

Although Green Book was not directed by a black director its worth noting that Mahershala Ali was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting in Any Movie.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Ava DuVernay making Prince documentary for Netflix

Ava DuVernay the director of both 13th and Selma is now making a documentary about music legend Prince for Netflix.

“Prince was a genius and a joy and a jolt to the senses,” the Oscar-nominated filmmaker told Deadline tonight of the Purple Rain star who died in April 2016. “He was like no other,” DuVernay added of the Oscar winner and eight-time Grammy recipient. “He shattered every preconceived notion, smashed every boundary, shared everything in his heart through his music. The only way I know how to make this film is with love. And with great care. I’m honored to do so and grateful for the opportunity entrusted to me by the estate.”

As part of the development of the film, the estate has granted the ARRAY founder full access to the vast trove of archives recordings and, perhaps most immediately important to Prince’s global fanbase, the unreleased material by the prolific musician. The early stages of the project already have seen DuVernay, editor Spencer Averick and other members of her core production team visit Prince’s Paisley Park home and studios repeatedly during the past several months.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Ryan Coogler Signs on to Write and Direct 'Black Panther' Sequel

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the filmmaker behind Marvel’s landmark Black Panther has quietly closed a deal to write and direct the sequel.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

African-American Communities Lack Movie Theaters, and Here’s Why Many May Never Be Developed

African-American and Latino audiences are more interested in moviegoing than many other populations, and yet in a country with nearly 40,000 screens, some of these communities face a cinema desert. That seems counterintuitive at best, racist at worst, and difficult to improve: We are in a period with fewer new theaters under development than virtually any time since the multi-screen era began five decades ago. Here’s why some areas may never see a movie house.

There’s a number of major population centers with African-American communities with successful theaters. Atlanta leads the way, but others thrive in or around Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore, and Chicago.

Selma has a population of about 19,000, and is the largest town in a county of 46,000. The closest multi-screen theaters are in Plattville and Montgomery, at a distance of 35 miles or more. The city is 80 percent black; the county, 63 percent.

While Selma doesn’t have a commercial theater, it has the Walton, a single-screen outlet owned by the city and leased by a local nonprofit. With the support of distributor Paramount Pictures, the Walton provided free screenings of “Selma” for several weeks during its general release in January 2015. Currently, the theater is showing “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” (DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” also screened this spring.)

Among its 10 top-grossing films in the last three years are three by black directors (“Black Panther” and two Tyler Perry films), plus three more with significant black story elements (“Hidden Figures,” “Woodlawn,” and “War Room,” its biggest success.) The theater tries to avoid R-rated films, which limits play across the board and particularly among some of the most acclaimed African-American directed films of recent years like “Get Out,” “Moonlight,” and “Birth of a Nation.”

While the Walton is clearly a valuable Selma resource, it’s a town is large enough to be served by more than a single screen. Many similar small towns have four- to six-screen theaters, often the result of the boom in multi-screen construction 20 to 30 years ago.

Compton’s situation is similar. The Los Angeles suburb is about 65 percent Latino, with 26 percent of households below poverty level. The nearest theaters are multi-screen complexes in Carson, Paramount, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Baldwin Hills, with the closest at least 15 minutes away.

A population of nearly 100,000 is enough to support a theater complex, but that absence is not unheard of given the sometimes-patchwork municipalities of Los Angeles county; West Hollywood and Beverly Hills have no major-first run theaters. However, Compton is hampered by economic and construction issues in a way those independent cities are not.

It’s been more than two years since Moctesuma Esparza’s Maya Cinemas proposed building a 14-screen complex in Compton. Esparza currently has five complexes in California, all located in underserved Latino areas; another in Las Vegas is on the way. However, he’s yet to break ground in Compton, and recently told the Los Angeles Times that he’s stymied by the lack of available land for parking.

Other smaller, mostly black cities lack local theaters, including East St. Louis, Illinois; Gary, Indiana; and Camden, New Jersey. Similarly, the largely Latino community of unincorporated East Los Angeles with a population of over 150,000 is served by no modern first-run complexes closer than downtown Los Angeles to the west or Commerce to the east.

In a time of plateauing ticket sales, and the promise of these underserved, movie-loving audiences, why don’t theater chains respond to the demand? One answer lies in the economic calculations necessary to invest in modern a multi-screen theater that will include stadium seating, plush seats, IMAX screens, and other amenities now viewed as standard essentials to attract audiences in the streaming age.

When complexes began to replace single screens in the ’70s and ’80s, it was a much less expensive proposition; chains opened new outlets in strip malls and other established shopping centers. Today, those hubs are dying, and a new theater often means committing to new construction to accommodate those massive screens and stadium seats. At a minimum, it’s a $15 million investment.

To support that outlay, investors look for areas that offer other local draws like restaurants and other entertainment venues. No one wants to count on movies as the sole attraction. That means a rabid audience isn’t enough; communities need parallel economic development, which is another complex and challenging issue with its own racial overtones.

While Magic Johnson’s theater chain failed — of the five multiplexes he opened in Cleveland, Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Harlem, only the AMC Magic Johnson Harlem 9 remains — companies like Maya still offer hope. However, cinemas are not a growth industry in America. Domestic screen numbers show decline, and theater chains focus their outreach overseas. Yes, all audiences have unprecedented access via streaming — but as they say, it’s just not the same.


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Ava DuVernay: First African American woman to direct a $100 million grossing film

Congratulations are in order for Ava DuVernay, the acclaimed film director of films like 'Selma' and '13th'. Her film, A Wrinkle in time has crossed the $100 million dollar mark making her the first African American female director to hit that milestone.

Per The Hollywood Reporter:

Due to Incredibles 2 playing in drive-in theaters, Ava DuVernay's A Wrinkle in Time has jumped the $100 million mark at the domestic box office, a first for a black female director. The two films are playing together at drive-ins, with revenues split between them. A Wrinkle in Time, which is otherwise done with its theatrical run, had earned around $98 million before Incredibles 2 debuted last weekend.