They didn't think it was going to work. Now they're Shocked - SHOCKED I tell you as George Lucas new film "Red Tails" apparently did 6 Million in Box Office on it's first day - putting it in second place behind the new installment of Underworld which has the advantage of being in 3D - and looking at making as much as $17 Million in it's first weekend.
Here's what Deadline had to say about it.
“Hollywood studios were stunned by how well the No. 2 film, George Lucas banner film Red Tails, did in matinees today. Until they discovered that the Lucasfilm/Twentieth Century Fox movie’s marketing inside the African-American community resulted in busloads of schoolkids and midday filmgoers for the Tuskegee airmen’s story. Right now the pic appears very frontloaded but could keep surprising by flying towards $20M because of its ‘A’ CinemaScore from audiences.”
And here's the thing, yes, the black community is coming out to support this film. It's the first action movie with a nearly All Black Cast EVER. It's not Rush Hour, it's not Lethal Weapon or Romeo Must Die or Exit Wounds... are you seeing the pattern yet?
And it almost didn't get made at all because of that as George Lucas explained on the Daily Show
“It’s because it’s an all-black movie. There’s no major white roles in it at all…I showed it to all of them and they said no. We don’t know how to market a movie like this.”
(More over the orange squiggle of power...)
My Full Review and Report on watching a Pre-Release Preview of the Film last Wednesday is Here
Now that the movie is out, and it's had a good first weekend - there is a danger. If it doesn't have Legs and continue to have several good strong weeks, if the word of mouth doesn't carry it forward, if it's appeal is ultimately limited to just the black audience, then it might put the future of big budget black cinema at risk as Lucas explains:
“I realize that by accident I’ve now put the black film community at risk [with Red Tails, whose $58 million budget far exceeds typical all-black productions]. I’m saying, if this doesn’t work, there’s a good chance you’ll stay where you are for quite a while. It’ll be harder for you guys to break out of that [lower-budget] mold. But if I can break through with this movie, then hopefully there will be someone else out there saying let’s make a prequel and sequel, and soon you have more Tyler Perrys out there.”
Here's a behind the scenes video showing how the cast met with the actual surviving members of the Red Tails to help craft this story.
It just kills me that the prayer scene wasn't in the script. They ad libbed it on the set, and it's one of the most powerful scenes in the movie - they use it in every trailer.
I truly do believe that frankly every America should see this movie, particularly black Americans, but not just them - because this film makes the case and the argument that way through adversity, the way to fight bigotry is to be excellent.
That's true not just for black kids, but also for gay kids, goth kids, athiest and wiccan kids. Everyone. Anyone who stands outside the "norm" or apart from the mainstream. Anyone who dares to be different and dares to actual live by the idea that America really is the land of the free, the land where you're free to be who you truly are, not be forced to conform or else be relegated to irrelevance. It truly is the home of the brave, those who dare to challenge conventional wisdom, who dare to defy the status quo...who don't give up and give in...
To the last man, to the last plane, to the last bullet - we fight, We Fight, WE FIGHT.
That's the America I believe in. That's the America you see in this movie.
If this film has only a fraction of the cultural impact of Star Wars or even Raiders - it could change this nation forever, for the better.
Now, let's get our asses out there and see Red Tails. Tell your friends to see Red Tails, your black friends, your white friends, your Asian friends, your gay friends... everybody. Remember what America has been, see what it could be, and start making it what it should be.
Cashing in at $19.1 million and placing second behind “Underworld 4,” the George Lucus film about the bravery of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II exceeded expectations and is well-positioned to break even in the coming months.
I've also noticed that "Red Tails" Rotten Tomatoes score has actually gone up. On Thursday when I wrote my original review, it was 31 - yesterday it was 33, today it's 34. That's compared to 27 for Underworld which is the Number 1 Box Office Movie this weekend, and to the audience rating of 74.. I think what's happening here is that the critics wanted some type of Hallmark Special or HIstory Channel type of film, but Lucas wanted a picture that rocked and would get people's blood flowing, especially teenagers who aren't going to flinch at some of the corniness of things (I mean really, have you ever actually watched an Episode of Hannah Montana - they thrive on the Corny) At this rate they just might tiptoe up to 30 Million by Monday, not quite Twilight numbers, but enough to make Hollywood permanently take notice.