Why Your Support of ‘Red Tails’ is Important for Black Hollywood

Ask any black filmmaker and they’ll tell you that getting black films made and subsequently released is a difficult task unless your first name is “Tyler” and your last name’s “Perry.” Now George Lucas, the Hollywood heavyweight that brought us “Star Wars” and the executive producer behind the film “Red Tails,” is talking about how difficult it was for even a successful film legend like himself to get the movie about the Tuskegee Airmen into theaters.

During an appearance on Comedy Central’s Daily Show Lucas joked  that the movie had ” …been held up for release since 1942 since it was shot, I’ve been trying to get released ever since.” The film, which is set to be released on Jan. 20 through Lucasfilm, tells the story of the first group of African-American fighter pilots in the U.S. armed forces and stars an ensemble cast that includes Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Terrence Howard. But even with a big name producer and marquee talent attached getting it made was still a challenge. Why you ask? “It’s because it’s an all-black movie ,” according to Lucas. “There’s no major white roles in it at all…I showed it to all of them [major studios] and they said ‘no.’ We don’t know how to market a movie like this.”

To put the film out Lucas invested a total of $93 million of his own money–$58 million to make the movie and $35 million to distribute it–banking on it being a box office hit. Should it fail, Lucas told USA Today, the repercussions would be felt in Black Hollywood for along time to come. “”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],” he said. “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.”

Will you see “Red Tails”? Do you think Lucas is right about the consequences for Black Hollywood if it fails? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.