This weekend, blacks in Hollywood and film buffs alike are hoping that people will go out and support Red Tails, a movie that showcases the efforts of black Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. The movie, directed by George Lucas, features an all-black cast that almost didn’t make it to the big screen because mainstream Hollywood film makers were not interested in funding the project because its all-black cast.
“It’s because it’s an all-black movie. It has no major white roles in it at all,” Lucas said in an interview with Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart this week. “And they don’t believe there’s any foreign market for it.”
Lucas spent nearly $58 million to fund Red Tails himself after his project was consistently rejected by the major filmmakers, people he had originally thought would help market and distribute the film.
If the film doesn’t do well in the box office, Lucas said, it may make it harder for future films to cast all-black actors with big budgets.
The ongoing fear of challenged black starlets in Hollywood has surged to the surface with the arrival of Red Tails. Tyler Perry recently released a statement saying that one of the bigger issues that the film’s funding process highlights is that all-black casts are becoming a thing of the past.
“Unfortunately, movies starring an all-African American cast are on the verge of becoming extinct. THAT’S RIGHT, EXTINCT!”
He goes on to say that “George decided to take a huge risk by entirely funding the movie and releasing it himself,” he added. “What a guy! For him to believe so strongly in this story is amazing.”
Red Tails features a fancy cast of well-known and upcoming black actors, including Cuba Gooding Jr., Ne-Yo, and David Oyelowo. The story shot in the style of a 1940s war film showcases the Tuskegee airmen’s difficult struggle through training and combat in European theater and the work of blacks during wartime that is often forgotten or not mentioned in history classes.
“I wanted to make a movie that’s inspirational for black teenagers. This is not a movie about victims. This is a movie about heroes,” Lucas said. He found it hard to get the story, which is based on true events, to fit into a two-hour film.
With the film opening in major theaters on January 20, Perry said that he hopes everyone, not just blacks, will band together to not only support Lucas’s courageous effort, but to visualize what segregated America was once like and learn from its lessons.
“I think we should pull together and get behind this movie,” Perry stated. “I really do! Not just African Americans, but all of us. I have seen the movie and screened it here in Atlanta. I loved it and I think you will too.”