Tag: “The Help”

‘Hidden Figures’ Tops ‘Rogue One,’ With $22.8M #1 Debut at Box Office

(PHOTO COURTESY OF FOX 2000)

article by Scott Mendelson via forbes.com

With the always present caveat that “rank doesn’t matter,” it turns out that Hidden Figures was the top movie of the weekend, not Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. As you probably know, the weekend box office that everyone reports on Sunday is comprised of estimates and when the rankings are close the order can sometimes shift when the final numbers drop. So yeah, Hidden Figures earned a terrific $22.8 million, about $1m more than estimated, which is a sign that the film is building on its buzz and word-of-mouth.

Meanwhile, Rogue One had to settle for a $22m fourth weekend, bringing its domestic total to $477.3m. The story though, isn’t necessarily that Hidden Figures, which stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Mahershala Ali, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons and Kevin Costner, bested the fourth weekend of Star Wars (or the third weekend of Sing) in its wide release debut. No, it’s that Hidden Figures, a historical drama about female African-American NASA mathematicians whose skills were essential to putting Americans into space, earned $22.8 million on its opening weekend, bringing the domestic total for the $25m Fox 2000/Chermin release to $24.7m.

At the risk of stating the painfully obvious, the triumph of said Allison Schroeder/Ted Melfi-written studio programmer, based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s book, is a huge win for the notion that movies about women, women of color no less, can be not just critically acclaimed and award-worthy but also multiplex-friendly box office hits. This shouldn’t be a surprise. We should know this by now. The Help earned $169 million domestic in 2011, more than X-Men: First Class ($146m), and earned about as much worldwide ($216m) as the 3D/$200m+ Green Lantern ($219m).

Back in 1995, Waiting to Exhale made about as much domestically ($67.4m) as Bad Boys, Outbreak and Heat. The entire Tyler Perry media empire is built on audiences (black women and otherwise) going to movie theaters to see mainstream melodramas about African-American women. Hell, we forget about it now, but Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple earned $94.1 million domestic in 1985 ($216m in 2017 dollars). That doesn’t mean every Baggage Claim is going to break out, but if you treat movies like Hidden Figures like an event, the audience will show up.

To read more, go to: Box Office: ‘Hidden Figures’ Topped ‘Rogue One,’ But Its Real Victory Was That $22.8M Debut

After Years of Supporting Roles, Viola Davis Relishes Lead Role in ABC’s “How To Get Away With Murder”, Hopes to Inspire New Generation of Black Female Actors

Academy Award-nominated actor Viola Davis (GRAEME MITCHELL FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

“Even when I get the fried-chicken special of the day, I have to dig into it like it’s filet mignon,” Viola Davis said. She was speaking not of meals, but of roles. During her 30-year career as an actress, Davis has played a crack-addicted mother (“Antwone Fisher”), the mother of an abducted child (“Prisoners”) and the mother of James Brown (“Get On Up”). Her characters often serve to “hold up the wall” of the narrative, she said, like the empathetic best friend in “Eat, Pray, Love” or the kindly stranger in “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” Or the kindly mental-institution psychiatrist in “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” the kindly rape-treatment counselor in “Trust” or the kindly medium in “Beautiful Creatures.”

“I always got the phone call that said: ‘I have a great project for you. You’re going to be with, hypothetically, Vanessa Redgrave, Julianne Moore, Annette Bening,’ ” she said, sitting in the living room of her San Fernando Valley home, barefoot on the couch in a gray T-shirt and leggings, her hair wrapped under a black turban. “Then I get the script, and I have a role that lasts for a page or two.”

Yet over and over again, Davis has made these marginalized characters memorable. She earned her first Oscar nomination for eight minutes of screen time as the mother of a possible victim of molestation in “Doubt.” Four years later, she spent months conceiving an intricate back story to enliven Aibileen Clark, a housemaid with a sixth-grade education, in “The Help.” Davis earned her second Oscar nomination but soon enough returned to playing yet another government functionary or military officer. “I have been given a lot of roles that are downtrodden, mammy-ish,” she said. “A lot of lawyers or doctors who have names but absolutely no lives. You’re going to get your three or four scenes, you’re not going to be able to show what you can do. You’re going to get your little bitty paycheck, and then you’re going to be hungry for your next role, which is going to be absolutely the same. That’s the truth.”

This fall, Davis, who is 49, is finally getting her shot at the anti-mammy. As the star of “How to Get Away With Murder,” a new series on ABC, Davis plays Annalise Keating, a flinty, stylish defense lawyer and law professor who employs her top students to help her win cases. After those students become entangled in a murder plot on their Ivy League campus, viewers will wonder whether Keating herself was involved in the crime. Davis plays Keating as cerebral and alluring, a fierce taskmaster who uses her sex appeal to her advantage, with a handsome husband and a lover on the side. It’s the kind of woman, in other words, that she has never gotten to play.

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In ‘‘How to Get Away with Murder,’’ Viola Davis plays a criminal-law professor who solves cases with her top students. The series debuts on Sept. 25 on ABC. (NICOLE RIVELLI / ABC)

“How to Get Away With Murder,” which includes Shonda Rhimes among its executive producers, will be shown on Thursday nights after Rhimes’s two hit series, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” a generous lead-in that the network hopes will result in an instant hit. But that will depend, in part, on whether viewers embrace Davis — “a woman of color, of a certain age and a certain hue,” as she says — in her new capacity. “I don’t see anyone on TV like me in a role like this. And you can’t even mention Halle Berry or Kerry Washington,” she told me, referring to two African-American stars with notably lighter skin.

Davis and her ensemble cast are completing 15 episodes in five months, or a new episode about every 10 days. Our first meeting took place at 9 a.m. on a Sunday, one of her rare days off. As her 4-year-old daughter, Genesis, played in the kitchen nearby, Davis talked about Keating’s nuances and dynamism. After years of stock characters, she was thrilled to play a real protagonist, a fully developed, conflicted, somewhat mysterious woman. “It’s what I’ve had my eye on for so long,” she said. “It’s time for people to see us, people of color, for what we really are: complicated.”

Black actors have always had a tough time getting their due in Hollywood. After Sidney Poitier became the first African-American to win the Academy Award for best actor, in 1964, it would take almost four decades before Berry won for best lead actress. These days, when the paucity of strong black roles prompts suggestions of racism, film executives often cite economics in their defense. The American movie market makes up less than a third of global box-office receipts, and films with predominantly black casts typically don’t earn as much money overseas. “The Help,” which made $170 million in the United States, took in just $42 million internationally. By comparison, “Guardians of the Galaxy” made $556 million worldwide this summer, almost half of it from ticket sales abroad. Last year, the poster for “12 Years a Slave” in the Italian market featured images of either Michael Fassbender or Brad Pitt rather than its many black stars.

Films with largely black casts tend to be made on low budgets and marketed specifically to black audiences. In January, Sony’s Screen Gems scored with “About Last Night,” a romantic comedy with an all-black ensemble led by Kevin Hart: It cost $12 million and took in $49 million. But the conventional wisdom in the industry is that big-budget films like sweeping historical dramas, say, or special-effects-driven thrillers need a global audience to turn a profit. With a few notable exceptions (Denzel Washington, Will Smith), black actors are usually relegated to supporting roles. Black actresses, especially, face another hurdle: the darker-complected they are, the narrower a range of parts they are offered. Earlier this year, Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Oscar for her role in “12 Years a Slave,” said that her “night-shaded skin” had always been “an obstacle.”

Continue reading “After Years of Supporting Roles, Viola Davis Relishes Lead Role in ABC’s “How To Get Away With Murder”, Hopes to Inspire New Generation of Black Female Actors”

NBC To Reboot Detective Series “Murder, She Wrote” With Octavia Spencer Starring

Octavia Spencer

According to Deadline.com, NBC is looking to remake one of the most successful female-led series in TV history – Murder, She Wrote – which ran on CBS from 1984 to 1996 and stared Angela Landsbury as amateur detective Jessica Fletcher.  The new version will star Academy Award-winner Octavia Spencer, and is being reimagined as “a light, contemporary procedural in the vein of Bones or Fargo, which follows a hospital administrator and amateur sleuth (Spencer) who self-publishes her first mystery novel.  Set in a day where sensational headlines inundate the news, this woman’s avid fascination with true crime leads her to become an active participant in the investigations.”  Former Desperate Housewives executive producer Alexandra Cunningham is writing and will executive produce with David Janollari.

Murder would mark the first series regular role for Spencer, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Help. She previously worked with NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt and Janollari on the 2001 Sci Fi Channel series The Chronicle, which the two executive produced and she recurred on.  Spencer’s involvement in Murder, She Wrote stems from an exploratory meeting she took with Greenblatt. “I’ve always considered myself an armchair detective and in a recent meeting with Bob Greenblatt, he asked me what type of character would be able to lure me to TV. Naturally, I said ” J.B. Fletcher” meets “Colombo”… And here we are,” she said.

“I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to work with Dave Janollari again, and Alex Cunningham a brilliant writer who shares my love for all things mysterious and Angela Lansbury.” Cunningham also spoke of her and Spencer’s shared passions. “Octavia and I are both huge true crime buffs, amateur criminologists, and fans of Angela Lansbury,” she said. “To get the chance to reimagine Murder, She Wrote for a dynamic and multi-faceted actress like Octavia is a thrill and a pleasure.”

Spencer recently wrapped production on Black And White opposite Kevin Costner and is about to begin filming the James Brown biopic Get on Up while also promoting her debut novel, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit. 

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” No. 1 for 2nd Weekend in a Row with $17 Million in Box Office

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According to variety.com, three new wide releases, led by Sony-Screen Gems’ Y/A adaptation The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, with an estimated $14.1 million in five days,  were no match for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which only fell 31% in its second weekend, for a projected $17 million through Sunday. The Weinstein Co.-distributed movie has earned north of $52 million so far.

The holdover success of Lee Daniels’ The Butler can be largely attributed to its broadening audience: Last weekend, the film earned 76% of its gross from audiences over 35, while in its second weekend, that share shrunk to 63%. Moreover, African-Americans contributed a weighty 39% of the film’s opening; just 33% of its total this weekend came from black viewers.  The film’s playability mirrors the stronghold that The Help had on the box office this time two years ago.

Continue reading ““Lee Daniels’ The Butler” No. 1 for 2nd Weekend in a Row with $17 Million in Box Office”

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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