Tag: Forest Whitaker

Weekend Box Office: ‘Black Panther’ Bounds to Record-Shattering $218 Million-Plus Opening

The movie scores one of the top openings of all time in North America; overseas, it amasses $169 million for a $387 million global debut.
“Black Panther” (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)
In a defining moment for Hollywood, Disney and Marvel StudiosBlack Panther exploded at the Presidents Day box office, bounding to a record-shattering estimate of $192 million for the three-day weekend and a projected $218 million-plus for the four-day holiday frame.

The Ryan Coogler-directed movie — unprecedented in being a big-budget studio tentpole featuring a virtually all-black cast — secured the fifth-biggest domestic opening of all time after blasting past all expectations. It’s also the best launch of any superhero film behind fellow Marvel title The Avengers (2012), which earned $207.4 million in its first three days, not accounting for inflation.

The weekend isn’t over, however, and Black Panther could climb even higher. Many rival studios show a four-day total of $222 million to $225 million, as well as a higher three-day total in the $195 million range.

Other records broken include that of the biggest opening for an African-American director, the top-scoring superhero film on Rotten Tomatoes (97 percent) and the biggest February bow, supplanting previous champ Deadpool, which took in $152.2 million over the four-day Presidents Day weekend in 2016.

Playing in 4,020 theaters, Black Panther was fueled by a diverse audience. According to comScore, 37 percent of ticket buyers were African-American. Caucasians made up the next largest group (35 percent), followed by Hispanics (18 percent). That sort of demographic breakdown is unheard of for a marquee superhero tentpole. On average, African-Americans make up about 15 percent of the audience for such fare.

“There are seven billion people on this planet and they come from all walks of life. Audiences deserve to see themselves reflected on the big screen. Beyond being the right thing to do, it makes for richer storytelling,” says Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis.

Adds Imax Entertainment CEO Greg Foster, “Representation matters. Get Out, Wonder Woman, Coco and now Black Panther show Hollywood that authenticity and inclusiveness wins.”

Black Panther, which cost $200 million to make before marketing, was a bold move on the part of Disney and Marvel’s Kevin Feige.

In the film, Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa/Black Panther alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis. The story, described as a tale of black power and black pride in addition to its superhero themes, follows T’Challa as he is sworn in as king of Wakanda, a cloaked, technologically advanced nation in Africa that is home to the exotic metal vibranium, the source of Black Panther’s powers.

Audiences bestowed Black Panther with an A+ CinemaScore (the only other Marvel title to earn the mark was Avengers).

Black Panther hits theaters almost a year after Jordan Peele‘s maverick horror film Get Out transformed into a box-office sensation, although that was a genre pic. And in summer 2017, filmmaker Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, featuring a female protagonist, became the highest-grossing live-action film from a female director.

Overseas — where American films with a black cast can face challenges — Black Panther opened in virtually every major market save for Russia (Feb. 22), Japan (March 1) and China (March 9). The movie earned a mighty $169 million for an estimated global bow of $387 million through Monday, including a hefty $52 million from Imax locations around the world.

Black Panther came in ahead of expectations overseas, but certainly not to the extent it did in North America. Still, it secured the fifteenth-biggest international opening of all time, opening No. 1 in almost every territory. South Korea led with $25.3 million, the fifth-biggest start ever for a Western title. The U.K./Ireland followed with a $24.8 million launch, the best showing of any Marvel title behind Avengers: Age of Ultron and eclipsing the entire runs of Justice League, Ant-Man and the first installments in the Captain America and Thor franchises.

In North America, the only movies that dared to open nationwide opposite Black Panther were Lionsgate and Aardman Animation’s family film Early Man and PureFlix’s faith-based pic Samson. Early Man placed No. 7 with an estimated four-day gross of $4.2 million from 2,492 theaters, while Samson came in No. 11 with an estimated $2.4 million from 1,249 cinemas.

Source: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/weekend-box-office-black-panther-bounds-record-shattering-218m-debut-1085932

Chadwick Boseman and Ryan Coogler on How ‘Black Panther’ Makes History | Variety

Black Panther Variety Cover

by Ramin Satoodeh via Variety.com

Chadwick Boseman struggled to catch his breath after he was cast as Black Panther. When he first tried on his spandex suit for 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” it felt too restricting. “It was suffocating,” recalls Boseman. “Literally, it closed off every possibility of air getting to you. I was in it, put the mask on. I said, ‘Hey, you got to get me out of this!’” By the time he headlined his own movie, as the first black Marvel superhero with his name on the poster, Boseman was more comfortable in his re-engineered costume. “I think it begins to feel like skin after a while,” says the 41-year-old actor. “But it takes time to get to that place.”

The same can be said for Disney’s long-awaited tentpole “Black Panther,” which opens in theaters on Feb. 16. For decades, actors, directors, producers and fans have wondered why Hollywood was so slow to bring black superheroes to the big screen. It’s not that there weren’t attempts along the way. In the ’90s, Warner Bros. had originally tapped Marlon Wayans to portray Robin in a “Batman” movie, before Chris O’Donnell landed the sidekick role. Wesley Snipes starred in the vampire superhero franchise “Blade,” which spawned two sequels. In 2004, Halle Berry headlined “Catwoman,” which was ridiculed by critics and tanked at the box office. And 12 years later, Will Smith, the co-star of the juggernaut “Men in Black,” popped up in “Suicide Squad” as the under-seen assassin Deadshot.

“Black Panther,” directed by Ryan Coogler, is a movie that doubles as a movement, or at least a moment that feels groundbreaking in the same way that last year’s runaway hit “Wonder Woman” inspired millions of women. “Panther” marks the first time that a major studio has greenlit a black superhero movie with an African-American director and a primarily black cast, including Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright as Shuri, the princess of the fictional African country Wakanda.

The reality of this milestone isn’t lost on Coogler, the 31-year-old director of the Sundance darling “Fruitvale Station” and the “Rocky” sequel “Creed.” “I think progress comes in ebbs and flows,” Coogler says. “I hope things continue to open up. As more content gets made, more opportunities like ours can come about for folks. But you’ve got to put your foot on the gas when it comes to that or things can go back to where they were.”

“Black Panther” chronicles an origin story for a Marvel character who first made his debut in the comic books in 1966. On the big screen, he’s a warrior named T’Challa, who returns home to an Afro-futuristic country to inherit the throne as king. The release of the movie coincides with a crossroads in America. Racial tensions are heightened as a result of a president who continually makes reprehensible remarks about immigrants from nonwhite countries. “Black Panther” also arrives on the heels of #OscarsSoWhite, the two consecutive years (2015 and 2016) that the Motion Picture Academy failed to nominate any actors of color for awards.

Anticipation for the release of “Black Panther” is much higher than for the last outings from Batman and Thor. In May 2016, the hashtag #BlackPantherSoLIT started trending on Twitter as casting details around the movie emerged. “Panther” is poised to break box office records for February, a typically quieter time as audiences catch up on romantic comedies around Valentine’s Day. Marvel’s latest crown jewel is tracking to gross an estimated $150 million on its opening weekend. Strong business for “Black Panther,” which cost nearly $200 million to produce and roughly $150 million more to market, would send a clear message to the movie industry that certain communities are still widely underserved. While domestic ticket sales plummeted last year, the number of frequent African-American moviegoers nearly doubled to 5.6 million in 2016, according to a survey by the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

Some are paying attention. “Representation matters,” says Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, which owns Marvel. “It’s a powerful and important thing for people to know they are seen and to see themselves reflected in our films and the stories we tell.” Horn believes that “Black Panther” is part of a wave of change. “In terms of gender diversity, we’ve done very well,” he says, pointing to his studio’s own roster that includes “Beauty and the Beast,” “Coco” and the upcoming live-action “Mulan.” “When it comes to diversity reflecting color and ethnicity, I’d say yes, you will see more.” Continue reading “Chadwick Boseman and Ryan Coogler on How ‘Black Panther’ Makes History | Variety”

Musician/Filmmaker Boots Riley Sells “Sorry to Bother You” at Sundance Film Festival to Annapurna Pictures

by  via Variety.com

Annapurna Pictures has purchased the film “Sorry to Bother You” following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. The workplace satire sold in a competitive seven-figure deal, with the studio picking up worldwide rights.

“Sorry to Bother You” centers on an Oakland-based telemarketer named Cassius Green who discovers a magical key to professional success. It takes on such topics as racism and corporate greed — some buyers felt its satire was deft, while others griped that it juggled too many ideas.

Boots Riley via supportagentsfilm.com

The film stars Lakeith Stansfield (“Atlanta”, “Get Out”), Tessa Thompson (“Creed”), Armie Hammer (“Call Me by Your Name”), David Cross (“Arrested Development”), and Terry Crews (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”). It was written and directed by Boots Riley, who is better known as a musician. He provides vocals for The Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club.

Annapurna, which specializes in auteur-driven fare such as “The Master” and “Detroit,” was pretty blunt about its love for the picture. “We f—ing love this movie,” the studio said in a statement.

The film was produced by Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Charles D. King, George Rush, Jonathan Duffy, and Kelly Williams. It was co-financed by MNM Creative, MACRO, and Cinereach.

To read full article, go to: http://variety.com/2018/film/news/sundance-sorry-to-bother-you-annapurna-1202677125/

‘Twilight Zone’ Reboot Executive Produced by Jordan Peele Gets Greenlight at CBS

Jordan Peele (COURTESY: CBS)

by Joe Ottterson via Variety.com

“The Twilight Zone” reboot at CBS All Access has officially been ordered to series, the streaming service announced Wednesday.

Jordan Peele, Simon Kinberg and Marco Ramirez will serve as executive producers and collaborate on the premiere episode. Win Rosenfeld and Audrey Chon will also serve as executive producers. The new series will be produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and Kinberg’s Genre Films. “Too many times this year it’s felt we were living in a twilight zone, and I can’t think of a better moment to reintroduce it to modern audiences,” said Peele.

The original “Twilight Zone,” created by Rod Serling, was an anthology series that delved into science fiction, fantasy, and horror in every episode. It aired on CBS from 1959-1964. CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves first announced plans for a new version of the series back in November. The series has been revived twice before. The first reboot premiered in 1986 on CBS and ran for 110 episodes. The second, featuring Forest Whitaker in Serling’s on-air role, premiered in 2002 on UPN and lasted 43 episodes. A 1983 feature-film version, “The Twilight Zone: The Movie,” included vignettes directed by John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller.

The news also comes after Peele made a splash in the horror genre with his box office smash hit film “Get Out” earlier this year. He is also attached as an executive producer on the anthology horror series “Lovecraft Country” currently in development at HBO.

To read full article, go to: http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/twilight-zone-reboot-cbs-all-access-jordan-peele-simon-kinberg-marco-ramirez-1202632108/

Angela Bassett Joins Cast of Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ Movie

Angela Bassett

article by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

“American Horror Story” star Angela Bassett has joined Marvel’s “Black Panther,” playing the mother of the title character.

Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong’o and “The Walking Dead’s” Danai Gurira are also part of the ensemble cast. “Creed” helmer Ryan Coogler will direct.

Chadwick Boseman will play T’Challa, the prince of the African nation of Wakanda, who must take over the throne after his father’s murder. Marvel unveiled the character in “Captain America: Civil War” last May and his standalone film hits theaters on Feb. 16, 2018.

Production is expected to start in the first quarter of 2017.  Joe Robert Cole is co-penning the script with Coogler. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is producing the movie.

This marks Bassett’s second turn down the comic book avenue having previously appeared in DC’s “Green Latern” movie starring Ryan Reynolds.

Bassett recently reprised her role as Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs in “London Has Fallen.” On the small screen, she was just seen on “American Horror Story: Roanoke.”

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/film/news/angela-bassett-cast-in-marvel-black-panther-1201923837/

TV REVIEW: “Roots”, airing Memorial Day on History Channel, A&E and Lifetime, Resonates in a Black Lives Matter Era

Malachi Kirby, center, as Kunta Kinte in “Roots.” (Credit: Casey Crafford/A+E Networks)

article by James Poniewozik via nytimes.com

The original mini-series “Roots” was about history, and it was history itself. Airing on ABC in January 1977, this generational saga of slavery was a kind of answer song to the 1976 Bicentennial celebration of the (white, often slave-owning) founding fathers. It reopened the books and wrote slaves and their descendants into the national narrative.

But as an event, it was also a chapter in that story. It shaped and was shaped by the racial consciousness of its era. It was a prime-time national reckoning for more than 100 million viewers. As a television drama, it was excellent. But as a television broadcast, it was epochal.

The four-night, eight-hour remake of “Roots,” beginning Memorial Day on History, A&E and Lifetime, is largely the same story, compressed in some places and expanded in others, with a lavish production and strong performances. It is every bit as worthy of attention and conversation. But it is also landing, inevitably, in a very different time.

Viewers who watched “Roots” four decades ago have since lived with racial narratives of moving forward and stepping back. They’ve seen America’s first black president elected and a presidential candidate hesitate to disavow the Ku Klux Klan.

So in timing and spirit, this is a Black Lives Matter “Roots,” optimistic in focusing on its characters’ strength, sober in recognizing that we may never stop needing reminders of whose lives matter.

The first new episode, much of it shot in South Africa, looks stunning, another sign of the cultural times. Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby, in the role made famous by LeVar Burton) is now not a humble villager but the scion of an important clan, and his home — Juffure, in Gambia — a prosperous settlement. Kunta is captured by a rival family and sold into slavery to a Virginian (James Purefoy), by way of a harrowing Middle Passage.

Mr. Kirby’s Kunta is a more regal and immediately defiant character than Mr. Burton’s. But his tragedy is the same: He rebels but fails and is beaten into accepting his slave name, Toby. The name — the loss of identity — is as much a weapon as the whip. As the overseer who beats him puts it: “You can’t buy a slave. You have to make a slave.”

Kunta stops running, but he preserves his traditions, including the practice of presenting a newborn baby to the night sky with the words, “Behold, the only thing that is greater than you.”

That theme of belonging to something larger, of the ancestral family as a character in itself, is essential to “Roots.” Although Alex Haley fictionalized the events of his novel on which the mini-series is based, his story offered black Americans what slavery was machine-tooled to erase: places, dates, names, memories. And that focus keeps the ugliness — the racial slurs, the gruesome violence — from rendering this series without hope. A person may live and die in this system, but a people can survive it.

Still, the individual stories remain heartbreaking, even in small moments, as when the slave musician Fiddler (a soulful Forest Whitaker) recognizes a Mandinka tune he overhears Kunta singing. He’s moved — and, it seems, a little frightened by what the recognition stirs in him. As much as he’s worked to efface his heritage as a survival strategy, it lingers, a few notes haunting the outskirts of his memory.

Kunta’s daughter, Kizzy (E’myri Lee Crutchfield as a child, Anika Noni Rose as an adult), is teased with the possibility of a better life; she grows up friends with the master’s daughter and learns to read. But she’s sold to Tom Lea (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a struggling farmer who rapes and impregnates her. Rape — there are several assaults in this series — is another weapon against identity, another way you make a slave. Ms. Rose burns with Kizzy’s determination to hang on to her sense of self.

Continue reading “TV REVIEW: “Roots”, airing Memorial Day on History Channel, A&E and Lifetime, Resonates in a Black Lives Matter Era”

Forest Whitaker Works on Training Youth and “Overwhelming the World with Good” Through the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative

Forest Whitaker (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

Three days ago, the world celebrated its 34th International Day of Peace. Two days from now, leaders from around the globe will gather at the United Nations and pledge their commitment to 17 Sustainable Development Goals, among them, Goal 16, promoting peace and justice. This week, then, is a perfect occasion for us to reflect on a concept that we all strive toward but whose true meaning often escapes us.

We usually think and talk about peace as the absence of bad things. Peace is a lack of war. Peace is a lack of violence. But true peace isn’t just the absence of bad; it is the presence of good. Peace is people having their most-basic human needs met. Peace is people exchanging knowledge and ideas. Peace is people sharing an abiding and mutual respect. Peace is people working together toward a common goal.

On the surface, this might seem like a small, semantic distinction. But, in practice, the difference between a negative peace — the absence of bad — and a positive peace — the presence of good — carries enormous consequences.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of former child soldiers. I’ve seen firsthand that, for these young men and women who have been forced to commit some of the most brutal atrocities imaginable, it is not enough to simply remove the violence from their lives. We can take a young man out of an army, but unless we fill that void with something positive — with an education, a job, a community — he is not truly free. He is still a soldier at heart, and when the next conflict breaks out five or 10 years in the future, he will be among the first recruited back to the battlefield.

True peace isn’t just the absence of bad; it is the presence of good. – Forest Whitaker

For these children — and in the world around us — building a lasting peace requires not only that we end conflicts and violence, but that we build societies that allow all women and men to learn freely, to become active participants in their local economies, and, most importantly, to feel safe in their homes and villages.

This principle is especially relevant in South Sudan, a country that has been at the forefront of my thoughts recently. A few weeks ago, the South Sudanese government and rebel forces finally signed a peace agreement after a 20-month civil war that has resulted in an unbearable amount of human suffering — tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of approximately 2.2 million people. This peace agreement is an important step in the right direction, and all of us in the international community hope that both sides honor its terms. But even this cessation of violence is no guarantee of a true peace.

The agreement makes me optimistic that the people of South Sudan will soon have some relief from this terrible conflict, but what truly gives me hope for that nation’s future are the remarkable young women and men I’ve met and worked with there. I’ve spoken with youths at the protection-of-civilians camp in the capital city of Juba who, in spite of all they’ve been through, speak with such unwavering passion about working together to rebuild their country. I’ve met teachers who have told me how excited they are to finish their training and go back to their communities and help ensure that every child in South Sudan receives the education she or he deserves. I have seen women and men reaching across ethnic lines to warn others of danger and coming together to advocate for non-violence and reconciliation.

That is what true peace — a positive peace — entails. All of these young women and men have identified some need in their communities, and they have been working in whatever way they can, despite the violence, to fill that need. Their courage is an example for us all.

Continue reading “Forest Whitaker Works on Training Youth and “Overwhelming the World with Good” Through the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative”