I have to admit, I have been waiting for this. Ever since I heard a year ago that then 13 now 14 year-old Black-ishstar Marsai Martin came up with the concept for this movie and sold it to Universal, I have been excited about the potential of “Little.” Seeing the trailer for it, released today, makes me feel only more justified in rooting for its fruition.
Starring Issa Rae, Regina Hall and Martin (Martin and Hall also serve as executive producers), “Little” is produced by Will Packer Productions, written by Tracy Oliver (“Girls Trip”) and Tina Gordon Chism (“Peeples”) and directed by Chism.
Hall plays Jordan Sanders, a snarky tech mogul who shows little regard for her assistant April (Rae). After a confrontation with a young girl, Hall wakes up to find that she is a tween (Martin) again and has to lean on her assistant, the only one in on the secret, to run the company, while she heads back to grade school. Based on the trailer, this movie looks like a potential comedy blockbuster as well as great family entertainment.
“Little” will be in theaters April 12 – mark your calendars – and check out the trailer below:
According to Deadline.com, Universal’sGirls Trip has earned director Malcolm D. Lee not only his second A+ CinemaScore following 2013’s The Best Man Holiday, but also the best opening of his career at the domestic B.O. with $30.4M, beating Holiday‘s $30.1M. This is an incredible start for a movie that cost under $20M, is getting across-the-board positive reviews (plus, Tiffany Haddish‘s viral Will-and-Jada swamp story on “Jimmy Kimmel” exists because of this movie, so even more reason to give it up to “Girls Trip”) and it’s great for comedies in a marketplace. On Friday, the film made $11.7M and eased 5% on Saturday for $11.1M.
RelishMix sees Girls Trip‘s momentum fueled by its cast’s passion to promote on social media. “It’s encouraging to see an entire cast get behind a film — every cast member is social and activated, which is a true rarity. So, many of the YouTube views are surely driven by the super-social cast, led by Queen Latifah’s 18M followers,” reported the social media firm. Jada Pinkett Smith counts 8.9M followers across Facebook and Twitter.
“Girls Trip is a break-through comedy that is providing audiences with big entertainment, big laughs,” said Universal domestic distribution chief Nick Carpou, “Malcolm D. Lee is a master at creating characters and telling stories that resonate, and in conjunction with producers Will Packer and James Lopez, has brought us a fresh, raunchy, empowering comedy.”
In other box office news, World War II drama “Dunkirk” came in at number one this weekend, earning $50.5 million, but sci-fi spectacle “Valerian” crashed hard, collecting only $17M in its fifth-place debut. The top 5 were rounded out by holdovers “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which earned $22M in its third week, and “War for the Planet of the Apes,” scoring $20.4M in its second.
Making it in Hollywood is no easy feat, and doing so as a woman is even more difficult. If that woman is black — or Latina or Asian or otherwise nonwhite — the odds just aren’t in her favor. But with the release of “Girls Trip,” four black women — Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish — attempt a takeover of the buddy comedy, possibly the first time black women have led such a picture.
One reason as to why? The number of black women thought to be able to carry a studio-backed film is slim, and there hasn’t been a bona-fide black female comedic superstar since Whoopi Goldberg. We spoke to 18 funny black women about their industry experiences. Below are their thoughts:
Tracee Ellis Ross
While most probably know Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow on the hit “black-ish,” others see Joan Clayton of “Girlfriends,” the early 2000s show almost no one would argue about rebooting.
While most probably know Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow on the hit “Black-ish,” others see Joan Clayton of “Girlfriends” — the early 2000s show fans would love to see earn the revival or reunion treatment.
Regardless of her career experiences, Ross is just beginning to get her due recognition. In addition to nabbing a Golden Globe earlier this year, she’s earned her second consecutive Emmy nomination. Some might say she has all the makings of a comedic superstar.
But when she takes a moment to ponder other black women who fit the bill she’s forced to think hard.
“Regina Hall … Issa Rae … Jessica Williams,” she said after a moment, “but I shouldn’t have to search to come up with those names. The difficulty is, and I think what happens is, you might see somebody in a role and you’re like, ‘Holy …! She is so funny.’ Then she doesn’t get another opportunity, but she needs those roles because they help you build a career so everybody knows your name and knows what you’re capable of.
“And it’s not just black comedic women. There are, I’m sure, a lot of very funny Asian women and Latina women, and we know some of them, but it’s not because the talent doesn’t exist. The other thing is, the talent exists, but [performers] need the experience to keep getting better and have more depth.”
Ross is encouraged, however, by the likes of Rae.
“I think Issa is a beautiful example of ‘You’re not going to give me any real estate? Fine. I’m going to make it,’” she said. “There is revolution going on.”
How did you settle into comedic acting?
I loved making people laugh when I was younger. It was frowned upon during dinner time but I thought it was hilarious to make my sister laugh. It was often the thing that got me kicked out of class because I was always silly. It was one of the ways my shyness manifested and the way I protected myself and kept people at bay. And I’ve always been a very physical person so when I experience a feeling, I experience it in my entire body.
As I look back, it was a natural progression into the physical comedy and the ways I use my body. In terms of my career, I don’t know that it was a conscious choice that I moved into comedy, but it was an authentic choice. I don’t consider myself funny. I consider myself silly. I just tell the truth and my truth comes out in a way that makes people laugh. My goal isn’t to make people laugh, but I enjoy that exchange.
I think the difficulty for actors of any kind is when you get stuck with what other people assume is who you are. We’re actors and we can do anything.
— Tracee Ellis Ross
Who are some of your comedic inspirations?
I was a Carol Burnett, Lucy [Ball], Lily Tomlin type of girl. They were the three women that etched it in for me. I remember looking back and seeing Goldie Hawn in “Private Benjamin.” I was drawn to all of that growing up. Those were the women that defined freedom and courage [for me]. From there so many funny women like Julia Louis-Dreyfus — I don’t even understand [how she does it].
And then Whoopi Goldberg did the Moms Mabley documentary, and I was so grateful that she did that because it really showed me that Moms Mabley is specifically one of the reasons I can do what I do. She carved something out and did something so consciously that allows me to be a black woman in comedy.
Tiffany Haddish is legitimately having a moment. As a star of “Girls Trip,” opposite industry vets Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Regina Hall. Based on her performance, and with an upcoming Showtime comedy special, she’s on her way to household-name status.
But what else would you expect from “the last black unicorn?”
How did you get into comedy?
My social worker. [laughs] I was living in South Central L.A. and was being bused to Woodland Hills. I was getting in trouble because I was not sure how to make friends. So I made this imaginary friend up because I thought I was at the Nickelodeon Awards — I had never been around this many white people. I thought I was at the Nickelodeon Awards every day so I thought I needed to be all creative and entertaining because I thought white people lived in TV — my concept of people was really messed up.
I remember going to court and seeing the judge. I thought he was the judge from “People’s Court.” [laughs] By the time I got to 10th grade, it was bothering my social worker that she was getting called to the school every week. I was getting sent to the dean’s office for being racist because I had this bird named Cracker. It was this imaginary bird, and I would be like, “Cracker want a Polly?” And I would take actual crackers and break them up on my shoulder. Kids would laugh and stuff. We’d be taking a test and I would be like, “What’s the answer to number seven Cracker?” And they’d be like, “Go to the dean’s office!”
So my social worker was like, “You have two choices this time. You can go to Laugh Factory Academy Camp or you can go to psychiatric therapy. Which one you want to do this summer?” I was like, “Which one got drugs?” and I went to comedy camp. It was the first time a man ever told me I was beautiful and I didn’t feel like I was going to be hurt in some kind of way. They taught me confidence, communication skills, how to write, how to have stage presence.
Hulu has picked up a comedy pilot from “Peebles” director Tina Gordon Chism, titled “Crushed,” with Regina Hall attached to star.
Produced by Chris Selak, “Crushed” is about an African American family who stumbles into a successful wine business in Napa. Described as a “fish-out-of-water story,” the series will follow the family’s unorthodox approach to wine making and their unique life style.
The project was initially set up at HBO in 2013 but the network didn’t pick it up. Lionsgate Television, who are producing, then shopped it elsewhere, with Hulu eventually snapping it up, ordering a pilot.
“Crushed” joins other new original projects in development for Hulu – the Netflix and Amazon Prime competitor co-owned by Disney, Fox, and NBCUniversal.
Morris Chestnuthas inked a 3-picture deal with Sony’s Screen Gems, that will see him act in, as well as produce projects for the studio.
He’s already booked for the upcoming thriller “The Perfect Guy,” which he co-stars in with Sanaa Lathan and Michael Ealy, and he’s now also landed a starring role in the psychological thriller “When the Bough Breaks,” joining Regina Hall.
To be directed by Jon Cassar, “When the Bough Breaks” (previously titled “The Surrogate”), tells the story of a couple who hire a surrogate to have their baby, but, as you might expect, things don’t go entirely as expected.
Director Cassar’s resume includes helming episodes of hit TV series like “24,” “Daybreak” (which starred Taye Diggs), “La Femme Nikita,” the most recently-broadcast “24: Live Another Day,” and more. He’s also currently finishing a western titled “Forsaken,” starring Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, and Demi Moore.
Production on “The Surrogate” is set for early winter, with Unique Features’ Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, producing.
Meanwhile, Chestnut’s 3rd project under his 3-picture deal with Screen Gems, will be called “The Syndicate,” from writer Cliff Dorfman (“Entourage”), which Chestnut is producing.
Jill Scott,Regina Hall and Eve will be on a race to the alter for their upcoming Lifetime movie.
The network announced this week that it will be producing a romantic comedy aimed at black women titled With This Ring, Shadow And Act reports. The story centers on three girlfriends that make a pact to get married within a year after another one of their friends ties the knot!
With all of the biopics that Lifetime will be rolling out, we’re shocked they still know how to make anything else. There’s no word on who will play the bride just yet, but we’re interested to see who takes on the role.
Gabrielle Union has been attached to the project, but she probably won’t be appearing on screen. She’s signed on as an executive producer for With This Ring alongside Tracey Edmonds and Sheila Ducksworth.
Production for With This Ring, which is being directed by Nzingha Stewart, is slated to begin next month.
“Think Like a Man Too” raised the roof at multiplexes this weekend, carousing its way to $30 million domestically, according to studio estimates.
The Sony Pictures and Screen Gems sequel premiered on 2,225 screens and cost a modest $24 million to produce. It was able to capitalize on star Kevin Hart’s rising profile as it held off challenges from “22 Jump Street” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”
“It’s not bad being number one,” said Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures president of worldwide distribution. “The girls versus the guys element and getting the perspective of both sexes is something that’s always appealing to folks.”
The first “Think Like a Man” closed out its run with $91.5 million stateside. The follow-up film, brings back director Tim Story, as well as cast members such as Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Regina Hall and Jerry Ferrara, sending them to Las Vegas for a wedding ceremony that involve bachelor and bachelorette parties that take full advantage of all that Sin City has to offer.
Benefitting from its strong date night appeal and Kevin Hart‘s current filmic hot streak, About Last Nightopened strong on Valentine’s Day and wound up ahead of fellow 1980s remakes RoboCop and Endless Love this weekend, succumbing only to The LEGO Movie, which easily led the box office over President’s Day weekend.
According to boxofficemojo.com, in its second outing, The LEGO Movie added $48.8 million and so far has earned $129.1 million. Playing at 2,253 locations, About Last Night opened to an estimated $27 million. That’s the best opening for a romantic comedy since 2012’s Think Like a Man ($33.6 million), which also featured Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy and Regina Hall. It is noticeably lower than recent Kevin Hart movie Ride Along ($41.5 million), though that’s a difficult number to match.
According to Sony, About Last Night‘s audience was 63 percent female and 57 percent over the age of 30. They awarded the movie a solid “A-” CinemaScore. Remaining a master builder in its second weekend, The Lego Movie ended Valentine’s Day in a tie with new entry About Last Night, but is expected to zoom ahead on Saturday for a possible $59 million-plus finish over the long Presidents Day weekend. About Last Night took in $13 million on Friday for a projected four-day opening in the $35 million range.
Although Thor: The Dark World hung on to the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend, the big story was a stellar opening for The Best Man Holiday, which trounced all expectations to debut with a studio-estimated $30.6-million. Disney’s 3-D sequel Thor: the Dark World took in a solid $38.5-million, which represented an expected 55% drop from its opening weekend when it grossed $86 million.
The Best Man Holiday received a coveted average grade of A+ from moviegoers, according to market research firm CinemaScore. That means it joins an elite club of films that have enjoyed long and fruitful box office runs, including Argo, 42, The Help, The King’s Speech, The Blind Side and Titanic. Going into the weekend, the distributor Universal Pictures projected that The Best Man Holiday would take in a modest $17 million, while prerelease audience surveys indicated the film would start off with around $23 million.
“There’s no crystal ball in guessing this stuff,” said Nikki Rocco, Universal’s president of distribution. “It was fair to think this film— where 87% of the audience was African American—would open in the high teens.” That it nearly doubled that estimate is “a phenomenal result,” said Rocco. “I would never have thought in my most non-lucid moment to expect this — the picture only cost $17-million.” Thanks to the A+ CinemaScore, Rocco says she believes the film will eventually reach a broader audience.
The Best Man Holiday, which is about a group of friends gathering for Christmas, is a sequel to 1999’s The Best Man which grossed $34 million. Both films were directed by Malcolm D. Lee and star a number of the same actors, including Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard and Nia Long.
This week, Universal Pictures released the official trailer to The Best Man Holiday, the upcoming sequel to the 1999 film, The Best Man. Writer/director Malcolm D. Lee is at the helm again, and he has reunited his all-star cast of Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Monica Calhoun, Harold Perrineau, Melissa De Sousa and Regina Hall for a story set fifteen years later during the Christmas holidays. The movie is scheduled for wide release on November 15.