Every year, there is someone new making the list of “Black Firsts.” Yes, even in 2017, y’all. There are so many untold stories and more hidden figures that aren’t known about until we tell these stories ourselves. Often, when it comes to movies they tend to always have the same story line or follow the same theme: the black guy is a bad ass gangsta and in many other movies, we only fit stereotypical roles. The black one dies first. The black woman is ghetto. We can’t forget the token black person in every movie where they have weak catch lines like, “that’s dope” or “fo’ sho’.”
However you may have noticed lately that in the last 10 years there has been more “diversity” on television, ads, and in movies. Although, the nominees and the awards don’t always match up *sips tea*. Many breakout shows are climbing to the top of the ratings ladder because they are featuring more people that look like the audience- Americans. The film, written and directed by Jordan Peele, Get Out has recently gained some clout as making history for being one of the first films where a black man, directed and wrote his debut film and it reached $100 million. You are probably like “How Sway?” Here’s how.
A “black movie” can be defined as having a predominately black cast or a black theme although the film may or may not have a Black director. Now this is where things get technical. Most high grossing black films always have one or the other, but not both. John Landis’ film, Coming to America, released in 1988, made $281,442,024 at the box-office when the average ticket price was only $4.11, now if you factor in the cost of inflation that would be $595 million today. Meaning, the number one black film of all time is Coming to America. One other director’s debut that hit that $100 million ceiling was Mark Johnson’s, S.W.A.T with $117 Million, according to blackfilm.com.
Here is why Peele made history with Get Out. This was a screenplay adapted by him and directed by him. Think of it as a “For Us By Us film.” The storyline itself played out a lot of thoughts that many of us, as African Americans, have every day. Being the only black person somewhere, standing out in a sea of non-blacks and looking for someone that looks like us. You shouldn’t be surprised that this film went to the top despite people claiming it was racist or a movie about hypnotizing blacks into slavery.
Yeah, people actually thought that from the previews.
Fact is, black films have always made more money than films that don’t have any type of color flowing through it. Think about it, haven’t you noticed that some of the top rated television shows on primetime right now include black people or interracial relationships on it? When one died off The Walking Dead, another few appeared. Yeah, we see what you did there. After Cheerios premiered interracial couple eating with their child, it went viral. Next thing you know Old Navy popped up with one, State Farm, Macy’s, and Banana Republic. Ya’ll Banana REPUBLIC.
When you are in the business of making money then you are paying attention to the numbers. Put people in front of the audience that reflects that audience. These type of movies just perform better on average, according to a report on diversity in Hollywood from the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. One thing is for certain, we must commend Jordan Peele for making history. Your story matters and it makes money so get out there and tell it.