Or at least 50% of it. George Lucas has gone on record stating that his latest film, about a squadron of African American fighter pilots in World War II, is the biggest budgeted black film Hollywood has ever made… and he had to pay for it out of his own pocket because no one else would take the risk.
Why’d he do it?
He’s been telling anyone who will listen “I’m making it for black teenagers…. They have a right to have their history just like anybody else does… and they have a right to have it kind of Hollywood-ized and aggrandized and made corny and wonderful just like anybody else does. Even if that’s not the fashion right now.” (source: Bryan Curtis for the NY Times)
But Lucas has pissed off some African American women by not including any of them in the story in any significant fashion. At least one blog is wondering why black women would even be interested in attending the movie. That is not going to help Lucas achieve his goal of a $20 million open (and bad reviews like this one from Mark Jenkins of the Washington Post won’t help much either).
I like Lucas, I revere the Tuskegee Airmen and I want to love this movie, but honestly, the trailer looks pretty lame, even in spite of all the high-flying action. Still, when George appeared on The Daily Show last week to promote this film, he seemed sincerely interested in not only telling the story of these forgotten heroes, but also in refuting ancient Hollywood wisdom that insists that movies with all black casts can’t make (big) money. This weekend we’ll see if Lucas is right or wrong.