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01.16.07 07:42 PM

Resurgance of Black Films


Perhaps not since the days of John Singleton and Spike Lee's early successes have we seen African-American themed films take over the box office--and the awards in such a manner. For Dreamgirls, it was easy. The motion picture did not stray too far from the original Broadway production. Also, signing the likes of Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy, as well as Beyonce for that matter, was a sure bet at pulling in mainstream audiences as well.

But when it comes to the success that Stomp The Yard realized at the box office this weekend, I'm a little more baffled. Some might say there was little competition at the box office this weekend, but I beg to differ .The Pursuit of Happiness and Night at the Musuem were still there, and Freedom Writer had its opening.

I believe that the advertising/promotion for this film drew as much interest from the general marketplace as it had from the African-American consumer base. Visually arresting images of young black men charged with passion and stomping around--who wouldn't want to see it?

Though there's a brief you'll get a very brief lesson on what being Greek on an Af-Am campus means (very brief indeed), the film instead dumbs down what pledging or being in a fraternity or sorority really means, but dresses it up with dynamic choreography (a la You Got Served). Stomp The Yard isn't a great movie, but it is an enjoyable one, and perhaps it was a bit of luck that it was released on a weekend in which no cinematic masterpieces were released. Yet that doesn't mean it wouldn't still have met the fate of one of Tyler Perry's films and ended up doing well just because. Just because-- even after all of this time, African-Americans still don't see enough of themselves in mainstream movies, which leads to a choice of African-American themed content over the mainstream fare.

And finally, the movie was released on MLK Jr. weekend. So a movie like Freedom Writer, where some white do-gooder comes in to save the day at a minorty attended school, just doesn't have a chance when people are reflecting on or thinking about the advancements of their race.

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Haven't seen the movie yet, but it's in my download queue (yeah, I'm evil). Wonder if this means that the step competitions that occassionally pop up on cable will get some more mainstream play, like moving from BET to ESPN? I'd rather watch that than some mid-major college hoops game any day.

posted by Jackson West | January 17, 2007 1:22 PM #

I saw the flick yesterday, and I was impressed by the moving storyline and sharp editing. Also, my theater had hundreds of teenage black girls who gasp and cheered at even the predictable parts. This helped me to appreciate the film for what is what meant to be.

posted by Hashim | January 21, 2007 5:24 PM #

Congratulations to them. I'm still waiting to see non-black-themed "black movies". I figured that just like blaxploitation went out of style (but is ALWAYS fun to watch! :D) that "boyz in the hood", "menace to society" etc would just be a stepping stone for black filmmakers to prove their skillz and then branch out into other venues, bringing their audiences with them.

As we know, Hollywood works on $$$ and $$$ comes from knowing what works and sticking to it, so the song remains the same, however... hopefully, there's something new coming... right around the corner! :D

posted by Bill C. | January 22, 2007 12:54 PM #

black directors are taking a non-traditional, non-hollywood approach to filmaking. i call it niche film making. they are tapping into specific audiences and saying to hell with hollywood. it would be like an indie r&b singer who only sold his cd's at beauty shops, and only made songs for women at beauty shops. it seems dumb, until you realize how much spending power women at beauty shops have. that's exactly what tyler perry is doing, so he doesn't have to deal with hollywood. he sells "positive" black movies and targets a church and hood crowd. so what if the movies aren't great, they are "positive", and there is a huge black voice that feels those movie more closely represent their lives than anything at the theater. same with stomp the yard. they picked a specific audience, and are capitalizing on their buying power.

posted by hardCore | January 24, 2007 1:54 PM #

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