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

ESPN To Air Muhammad Ali Funeral Live Tomorrow at 2PM EST

Muhammad Ali (photo via express.co.uk)

Muhammad Ali (photo via express.co.uk)

article by Patrick Hipes via deadline.com

ESPN will provide live coverage of Muhammad Ali’s memorial service Friday in his hometown of Louisville, KY. As a result, the network is shifting its coverage of the opening match of the European soccer championships between host France and Romania to ESPN2. Coverage for both events begin at 2 PM ET.

Ali died Friday in Arizona after suffering for years with Parkinson’s disease. The three-time heavyweight champ and worldwide sports icon was 74.

Former President Bill Clinton, Billy Crystal and Bryant Gumbel are among those scheduled to give eulogies at the service, to be held as the 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center. That comes after a funeral procession travels along Muhammad Ali Boulevard and past his boyhood home on its way to Cave Hill Cemetery. The pallbearers include Will Smith, who played the champ in 2001’s Ali.

To read more, go to:  http://deadline.com/2016/06/muhammad-ali-funeral-tv-coverage-espn-1201769223/

Muhammad Ali Biopic ‘Ali’ Starring Will Smith Gets Re-Release | Deadline

As the world continues to celebrate the legacy of boxing great Muhammad Ali, who died Friday night at age 74, Sony pictures has today announced the re-release of its 2001 biopic Ali.

Written and directed by Michael Mann and starring Will Smith, the film charts the life and career of the three-time Heavyweight champion, philanthropist and civil rights icon from 1964 to his 1974 victory over George Foreman in the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” bout. The film will play this weekend in a few hundred theaters nationwide.

“With the passing of Muhammad Ali, we have received many requests for this film to return to theaters, in celebration of his life,” said Rory Bruer, president of Worldwide Distribution for Sony Pictures. “The film truly honors everything that made Ali one of the central figures of our time, a man who commanded his sport but whose personal faith and principles made him mean so much more. Muhammad Ali truly was The Greatest, and this tribute is a great way to honor him.”

The film garnered two Oscar nominations – Best Actor for Will Smith, and Best Supporting Actor for Jon Voight, who portrayed Howard Cosell. Ali also starred Jamie Foxx, Mario Van Peebles, Ron Silver, Jeffrey Wright, and Mykelti Williamson.

Source: Muhammad Ali Biopic ‘Ali’ Starring Will Smith Gets Re-Release | Deadline

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith Donate to Help Female Filmmakers at NYU Film School

Will Smith (R) and Jada Pinkett Smith attend the 47th NAACP Image Awards presented by TV One at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 5, 2016 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards).

Will Smith (R) and Jada Pinkett Smith attend the 47th NAACP Image Awards presented by TV One at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 5, 2016 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards).

article via thegrio.com

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are serious about seeing women succeed in Hollywood.  The couple just donated $30,000 to New York University’s film school as part of a foundation project designed to help female filmmakers and to finance student television projects.

“Will and Jada Smith have a strong desire and commitment to the education of tomorrow’s storytellers, and we’re thrilled that they have decided to support some of out standout students and programs,” said Joe Pichirallo, chair of Tisch’s undergraduate film and TV department.

The money will go to finance two student-created television pilots and will also go toward the Fusion Film Festival, which supports up to five female filmmakers whose work is submitted to the festival.

‘Straight Outta Compton’ & Creed Take Top Honors From African-American Film Critics

Straight Outta Compton 2

“Straight Outta Compton” (Photo: Universal Studios)

Universal’s N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton has been named Best Picture by the African American Film Critics Association, one of three categories it topped along with Best Ensemble and Best Supporting Actor for Jason Mitchell. Best Director went to Creed helmer Ryan Coogler, while its star, Michael B. Jordan, won for Breakout Performance and Tessa Thompson was named Best Supporting Actress. Best Actor went to Will Smith for Concussion and Best Actress to Teyonah Parris for Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq.

The AAFCA honors excellence in cinema by creating awareness for films with universal appeal to black communities, while emphasizing films about the black experience and those produced written, directed and starring performers of African descent. It will hold its awards ceremony February 10 in Hollywood.

Here’s the full list of winners:

Best Picture
Straight Outta Compton (Universal Pictures)

Best Director
Ryan Coogler,Creed (Warner Bros.)

Best Ensemble
Straight Outta Compton (Universal Pictures)

Best Actor
Will Smith, Concussion (Sony)

Best Actress
Teyonah Parris, Chi-Raq (Roadside Attractions/Amazon Studios)

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Will Smith “Definitely Doing” “Bad Boys 3” With Martin Lawrence

Will Smith “Definitely Doing” “Bad Boys 3” With Martin Lawrence

article by Danielle Harling via hiphopdx.com

Will Smith says he “may have gone too far” with the amount of freedom of expression given to his children, talks Bad Boys sequel.

During an interview with BBC Radio 1Xtra’s A.Dot, actor Will Smith was asked about his family, specifically his children and the freedom of expression they’re given. In response, Smith jokingly stated that “we may have gone too far.”

He later spoke on his son, Jaden Smith, who was recently featured in a campaign for Louis Vuitton’s new, womenswear collection.

“There’s a really powerful, internal quality as an artist that as parents we encourage,” Will Smith said. “You gotta get out on the edge. You have to try things. You have to be comfortable doing things that people don’t agree with. And you have to be comfortable doing things that you could fail. And Jaden is one-hundred percent fearless. He will do anything. So, as a parent it’s scary. It’s really terrifying. But he is completely willing to live and die by his own artistic decisions. And he just doesn’t concern himself with what people think.”

Smith later revealed that he was unable to star in the upcoming, Independence Day sequel because of his schedule. He also stated that after seeing fellow actor Martin Lawrence for the first time in two years, a Bad Boys sequel is “definitely” happening.

To read more, go to: http://hiphopdx.com/news/id.37395/title.will-smith-definitely-doing-bad-boys-3-with-martin-lawrence

Amid #OscarsSoWhite Backlash, the Academy Announces Plans To Double Minority Membership By 2020

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs (photo via hellobeautiful.com)

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs (photo via hellobeautiful.com)

In a unanimous vote Thursday night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences‘ 51-member board of governors approved a sweeping series of changes designed to diversify its membership, the academy said in a statement Friday.

The board committed to doubling the number of women and minority members in the academy by 2020.

AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced the plan Friday after many of Hollywood’s A-listers slammed the organization for their all-white award nominees.  “The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” she said in a statement.

The board approved reforms late Thursday to “begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition,” Isaacs explained.

It also approved a series of changes limiting members’ lifetime voting rights. “Beginning later this year, each new member’s voting status will last 10 years, and will be renewed if that new member has been active in motion pictures during that decade,” the academy statement said. “In addition, members will receive lifetime voting rights after three 10-year terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. We will apply these same standards retroactively to current members. In other words, if a current member has not been active in the last 10 years they can still qualify by meeting the other criteria. Those who do not qualify for active status will be moved to emeritus status. Emeritus members do not pay dues but enjoy all the privileges of membership, except voting. This will not affect voting for this year’s Oscars. ”

The swift and drastic change comes in response to a protest over an all-white slate of acting nominees for the second year in a row.

The move follows pledges by director Spike Lee and actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith to stay home from the Oscar telecast on Feb. 28, and calls for a boycott of the show online.

For the last three years, the awards body has been in the midst of a push for more diversity, inviting larger and demographically broader groups to join its 6,261 voting members. But given the size of the academy, and the fact that members belong for life, any change to the organization’s overall demographics had been incremental.

The academy will also launch a campaign to identify and recruit new members who represent greater diversity, the statement said, and will add new members who are not governors to its executive and board committees to influence key decisions about membership.

article by Rebecca Keegan via latimes.com; additions from Keyaira Kelly via hellobeautiful.com

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