“This is not a story about victims. This is a story about heroes.”
With those words, George Lucas simplifies his thoughts on his upcoming action flick, Red Tails. With that, any Hollywood studio would have jumped aboard. Lucas’ storied Star Wars franchise has amassed billions. Then with Indiana Jones, he cemented himself as a force in the movie industry. Somehow, Lucas (along with Steven Spielberg) got Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull greenlit, alien conspiracies & unbelievable nuclear survival tactics included. With that he was not expecting a challenge getting a movie he’s spent 20+ years developing.
A challenge is exactly what he got. No studio would touch his dramatization of the saga of the Tuskegee Airmen. It was deemed too risky. From a bottomline standpoint, one could agree. In an era where no movie is not a sequel or rehash of another idea, a movie starring a nearly all black cast is not only daring, it’s asking to flop. Below, Lucas explains his problems with major studios which led him to spend more than $50 million of his own money on the endeavor:
Where I stand on the issue is simple. I believe that we, as a community, need to support this film. I’m tired of the only look that Black men get in movies these days is as the Step-N-Fetch sidekick or Guard #3 [Except for Denzel Washington & Will Smith]. Supporting this movie will do wonders for the actors who play the men who risked their lives for the betterment of the country. In addition to Cuba Gooding, Jr [in his first non-straight-to-DVD role in a minute] and Terrence Howard, the cast includes Nate Parker (The Great Debaters), Ne-Yo (?!?), Method Man, Tristan Wilds (The Wire) and more.
Hollywood studios are convinced that the only way to get a Black crowd out is to put out religion-based romantic comedies where there are no strong male roles [Save for Daddy’s Little Girls]. In every Tyler Perry movie, the main character is a black woman who has been done wrong by a man in the past and eventually finds another.
Lucas himself realizes the risk he’s putting not only himself through, but the entire community of Black filmmakers.
Last week, Lucas told USA Today that he was worried that if Red Tails was a failure, it could have negative repercussions for black filmmakers. “I realize that by accident I’ve now put the black film community at risk [with Red Tails, whose $58 million budget far exceeds typical all-black productions],” he said. “I’m saying, if this doesn’t work, there’s a good chance you’ll stay where you are for quite a while. It’ll be harder for you guys to break out of that [lower-budget] mold. But if I can break through with this movie, then hopefully there will be someone else out there saying let’s make a prequel and sequel, and soon you have more Tyler Perrys out there.”
The only way that we can change this perception is to go out and support this effort. Not bootlegging it. Not waiting until it’s at the $1 theater and see it.The only other openings this weekend are another sequel and a spy movie. Make the right choice and you’ll do everyone a favor as I’m sure as all moviegoers of every race are tired of seeing the same idea re-hashed and reused a million times. How many sequels of Alvin & The Chipmunks can you stand to see released?