Tag: “Coming to America”

International Hits “Moonlight,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Straight Outta Compton” Disprove Hollywood Myth That “Black Films Don’t Travel”

(image via latimes.com)

article by Tre’vell Anderson via latimes.com

On his way to winning a best picture Oscar for “Moonlight,” a film made for a minuscule $1.5 million, writer-director Barry Jenkins took time between awards-season red carpet appearances for a six-city European promotion tour. It was time well spent.

“Moonlight,” about a poor black boy living in the projects of Miami and struggling with his sexuality, wasn’t supposed to be the kind of movie that wins the best picture Oscar. Its modest coming-of-age narrative, unconventional story structure and outsider characters with no mega stars made it, as filmmaker Mark Duplass said recently with admiration, “a bit of a miracle” that it even reached U.S. theaters. Certainly, it’s not the kind of movie that was expected to make money overseas. After all, says a longstanding Hollywood myth, black films don’t travel.

Yet as of Tuesday, “Moonlight” has made $28.6 million at the international box office — more than its $27.5 million domestic take — for a worldwide total of $56.1 million. With the film still in theaters, even more is expected.“This black film is definitely selling overseas,” Jenkins said to The Times on the red carpet for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, just after he’d returned from Europe.

“Every time there’s a success, it gets swept under the rug,” says Jeff Clanagan, president of Lionsgate’s Codeblack Films, which primarily produces films with African American casts. “It’s almost like there’s an asterisk on it. They chalk it off as an anomaly.”

For 1988’s “Coming to America,” the anomaly was the comedic genius of Eddie Murphy, who “transcended race” when the film grossed $160.6 million internationally for a $288.8 million worldwide take. (Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman, Will Smith, Kevin Hart, Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle are other box office champs for whom the “transcended race” label has been applied.)

For 1995’s “Bad Boys” and its 2003 sequel — which together pulled in a combined $210.3 million internationally and $414.7 million worldwide — it was the fact that the film was an action flick, never mind leads Smith, Martin Lawrence and Gabrielle Union. For 2015’s “Straight Outta Compton,” a $40.4 million payoff internationally (and $201.6 million worldwide), it was the popular music of rap group N.W.A.

Even as three-time Oscar nominee “Hidden Figures,” with its predominantly black cast, has so far made $48.8 million internationally — helping to push its $166 million domestic sales to nearly $215 million worldwide and counting — the myth persists.

When asked about the myth, Octavia Spencer, Oscar-nominated for her “Hidden Figures” role, responded simply: “I have two words for you: Will Smith.”

“He was told the same thing [at the beginning of his career] — that he wasn’t going to be taken to promote his film,” she said at the annual pre-Oscars Sistahs Soiree honoring women of color in the industry. “Had he not paid for himself to fly all over the world that very first time, he would not be an international box office star. So they have to start investing and taking black actresses and actors across the world just like they do with unknown white actors. They need to do the same thing for black actors. If you don’t know ’em, why would you go support the film?”

To read full article, go to: Disproving the ‘black films don’t travel’ Hollywood myth – LA Times

Eddie Murphy Honored with Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize

Eddie Murphy Emmy Awards
Eddie Murphy (photo via GETTY IMAGES)

Thirty-five years ago an unknown teenager from Brooklyn made an uncredited cameo in a lackluster episode of a network variety show on the verge of collapse. By the next episode that kid got his first real shot on screen and he never looked back. Soon enough, the only thing keeping “Saturday Night Live” from dying in the post-Lorne Michaels era was legendary-comedian-in-the-making Eddie Murphy.

Within two years Murphy was performing standup on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson, and turning in iconic parodic performances on “SNL” as Buckwheat, Gumby and Mr. Robinson in sketches that would be forever emblazoned in the annals of American pop culture. By 1984, Murphy was a hugely bankable movie star, making his mark in comic masterpieces like “48 Hours,” “Trading Places” and “Beverly Hills Cop,” which catapulted Murphy to international fame and spawned two sequels.

On Oct. 18, the man with one of the most infectious laughs in comedy will receive the 18th annual Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.  Kathy Griffin, who will present clips of Murphy’s 1982 “Tonight Show” debut at the Kennedy Center gala event, says Murphy’s brilliance stems from his gutsy approach to standup comedy.

“In an era when everyone is apologizing for everything, it is fun and liberating to go back and watch him express anything that he thinks is funny without filters,” she says. “He is not a safe comedian and isn’t that what standup comedy is really about?”

Of course, Murphy is also one of the most commercially successful African-American actors in film history. His movies have averaged $100 million at the box office, including such hits as “Coming to America,” “Shrek” and “The Nutty Professor.” Although he’s been absent from the big screen for several years, Imagine Entertainment is reportedly developing a Netflix comedy feature with Murphy.

“Eddie is an icon and a terrific actor who has been making us laugh for 35 years,” says Cappy McGarr, executive producer of the Mark Twain Prize.  He adds that Murphy’s early films were brilliant not only because they were funny, but also because they tackled themes of racism in America. “Trading Places,” released in 1983, explored the divide between the haves and have-nots.

“That movie is just as relevant now as when it was made,” McGarr says. “Like Richard Pryor, who received the first Mark Twain Prize, Eddie has been an incredible influence on all those who followed him.”

Comedians Murphy influenced and inspired include Arsenio Hall, Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, who’s called Murphy his “idol.” He will be among the presenters at the Kennedy Center ceremony, along with fellow “SNL” alumni Will Ferrell, who received the Mark Twain Prize in 2011, and Tina Fey, who was honored with the award in 2010.

Griffin says the Mark Twain Prize is the ultimate award for comedians, especially since they are typically overlooked at the Oscars. (Murphy’s one nomination is for his dramatic turn in Bill Condon’s 2006 musical “Dreamgirls.”)

“This is a huge honor for Eddie,” Griffin says. “Everyone in comedy wants this. The ones that have it all brag about it and the ones that don’t are pissed. This is it.”

Per McGarr, the Mark Twain Award may not be enough validation for a genius such as Murphy: “I just wish we could give him more than one medal.”

article by Stuart Miller via Variety.com

Happy 65th Birthday Oscar Nominee Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. JacksonSamuel Leroy Jackson (born December 21, 1948) is an American film and television actor and film producer. After becoming involved with the Civil Rights Movement, he moved on to acting in theater at Morehouse College, and then films. He had several small roles such as in the film Goodfellas before meeting his mentor, Morgan Freeman, and the director Spike Lee. After gaining critical acclaim for his role in Jungle Fever in 1991, he appeared in films such as Patriot GamesAmos & AndrewTrue Romance and Jurassic Park. In 1994, he was cast as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction, and his performance received several award nominations and critical acclaim.

Jackson has since appeared in over 100 films, including Die Hard with a VengeanceJackie BrownUnbreakableThe IncrediblesShaftSnakes on a PlaneDjango Unchained, as well as the Star Wars prequel trilogy and small roles in Quentin Tarantino‘s Kill Bill Vol. 2 and Inglourious Basterds.

He played Nick Fury in Iron ManIron Man 2ThorCaptain America: The First Avenger, and Marvel’s The Avengers, the first five of a nine-film commitment as the character for the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. Jackson is set to reprise his role as Fury in the 2014 film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the 2015 film, Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Jackson’s many roles have made him one of the highest-grossing actors at the box office. Jackson has won multiple awards throughout his career and has been portrayed in various forms of media, including films, television series, and songs. In 1980, Jackson married LaTanya Richardson, with whom he has a daughter, Zoe.  In October 2011, Jackson became the actor with the highest-grossing film total of all time.

article via wikipedia.org