Apparently, chains and oppression are the “it” thing in the entertainment business. The critically acclaimed and widely successful film 12 Years a Slave showed that the oppression of Blacks in America is a subject that is no longer taboo, in fact, it can make money. The movie has grossed more than $187 million at the box office, with $131 million coming from the international market. The budget for 12 Years a Slave was $20 million.
The movie Selma is also following this successful box-office formula. It is in limited runs throughout the country but is playing to enthusiastic crowds as the desire to tell the story of Black Americans is finally being met by the big studios. The movie, which was released on Christmas Day, has so far grossed only $2,178,175, but it also had a whopping $20 million production budget. These films have also propelled some relatively unknown actors and directors into the limelight.
The next major project that features the slavery theme is the upcoming mini-series “The Book of Negroes” on BET. This series features Academy Award-winning actors Louis Gossett and Cuba Gooding Jr. as well as introducing a new crop of Black actors and actresses. The series is scheduled to debut this February on the network and is based on the book of the same name by author Lawrence Hill.
But where will this end? The story of Black Americans is much more complex than slavery and Jim Crow. But these projects are what studio executives are not only giving approval to, but also big budgets.