Halle Berry Saved by Black Movie Box Office Successes


After years on the shelf, Halle Berry’s Frankie and Alice — which traveled the film festival circuit all the way back in 2008 — finally has a release date. And it might be thanks to black films attracting larger, mainstream audiences.

Codeblack announced that it will release the film on April 4, 2014, which is a Friday, meaning a theatrical run. It was originally set for a February 2011 release, after what was said to be a 1-screen Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles in December 2010. It didn’t garner Halle an Oscar nomination, but she was recognized by the Golden Globes for her performance (nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama).

Indiewire’s Shadow and Act blog goes on to say that the film is being distributed by Codeblack, the company behind the successful box office docu-comedy Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, the critical independent darling The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete starring Jennifer Hudson and co-produced by Alicia Keys, and next month’s thriller Repentance, starring Forest Whitaker, Anthony Mackie and Sanaa Lathan. Codeblack is also a sub-company of Lionsgate, the production house behind Tyler Perry’s films. There seems to be more and more money to be made in films with black casts, especially if those movies feature Hart, and the good times have spread to Oscar winner Berry.

As for Hart, the comedian’s latest romantic comedy About Last Night, co-starring Michael Ealy and Regina Hall, did well at the box office last weekend. But Leslye Headland, the white female screenwriter behind the script, wrote in The Hollywood Reporter that some of her peers gave her flack about tweaking the remake of the 1968 film for a contemporary, all-black cast.

I had some very interesting reactions to the casting specifically from white people who work in the movie industry. While I was doing the rewrite, I got dozens of really mean jokes most of which I don’t feel comfortable putting into writing here because they were sometimes racist and always hurtful. The most clever one (still lame) was: “How’s your David Blamet script going?” It was like my script was suddenly not as good or less than or just plain not cool because of the casting. Whatever. Those people suck.
This was all happening while I was promoting a film I wrote and directed, Bachelorette. The questions I was repeatedly asked during that press junket were about the trend of “Women in Comedy.” Now the trend is “Black Films Perform at the Box Office.” This kind of marginalization represents the same narrow-mindedness that sparked the racist “jokes” I got during my rewrite. When anyone marginalizes the success of a female-driven comedy or an urban comedy, there’s something more sinister at work.

Yeah, it’s called racism.

Here’s hoping the bottom line success of black films continues and opens the door for more diverse story lines from other cultures as well. The diversity we see on screen can spark acceptance in real life and that benefits everyone.

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