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Red Tails Surprises Studio Executives At The Box Office

Submitted by on January 22, 2012 – 10:31 am2 Comments

Reportedly, Red Tails‘ box office performance left many studio executives speechless over the weekend. The highly anticipated film, which tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black World War II fighter pilot squad, is estimated to have made $6.2 million on Friday, and is expected to make $17 million by the time the official weekend box office tally is done. That estimate, if accurate, is enough to make Red Tails the second highest grossing film of the weekend behind Underworld Awakening. According to Deadline.com:

“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.”

I would love it if the strong support of Red Tails continues, and I’m not just saying that because the film’s director, Anthony Hemingway, is from my hometown (Wilmington, NC). This is a story that needed to be told, and according to the film’s producer, Hollywood legend George Lucas, it almost wasn’t….namely because of the all-black cast. During a recent interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, Lucas elaborated on the difficulties of getting Red Tails made:

“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.”

Taking the subject a step further, Lucas also expressed concern about the negative repercussions for black films if Red Tails fails to impress at the box office. He recently told USA Today:

“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.”

Check out Lucas speak on the hardships of getting Red Tails made below:

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