Tag: Will Smith

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

Black Panther Variety Cover
CREDIT: ART STREIBER FOR VARIETY

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”

Tiffany Haddish’s Hilarious Groupon Story Lands Her Spokesperson Gig and Super Bowl Ad

Tiffany Haddish announces she is new spokesperson for Groupon (image via youtube.com)

by Natasha Bach via fortune.com

Tiffany Haddish’s love for Groupon is sending her to the Super Bowl. The Girls Trip actress went viral last summer, when she told Jimmy Kimmel a story about taking co-star Jada Pinkett-Smith and husband Will Smith on a Groupon swamp tour while filming in New Orleans (watch below).

The hilarious re-telling, which included the revelation that the Smiths had no idea what Groupon was, apparently spread quickly through the ranks of the discount e-commerce site. The company decided that they wanted to work with the actress and offered her a role as spokesperson. Now, she’ll be featured in a series of ads for the company, including its first Super Bowl commercial in seven years, which will air during the fourth quarter of the game.

According to Groupon’s head of marketing for North America, Jon Wild, when the company looked into Haddish, they not only found that the actress is a bonafide fan of its service, but that she is actually in the top 1% of most frequent purchasers. “She knows our product better than a lot of Groupon employees,” Wild said. “She could name what she’d done, the experience she had and how much she’d saved.”

That expertise not only landed Haddish the spokesperson gig, but also effectively made her an honorary employee. Groupon has also given Haddish her own section of the site, given her access to the employee app, and “put some Groupon bucks in her account.”

Source: http://fortune.com/2018/01/16/tiffany-haddish-super-bowl-ad-groupon/

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)

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

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