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Any seasoned film journalists will tell you that there was a time when film studios–small and large–were not giving much attention to websites. But when BlackFilm.com editor, Wilson Morales joined the team in 1999, he hoped to change the online landscape. Having done movie reviews for WBAI (99.5 FM) radio in New York, the Bronx-native brought the inside knowledge and connections the site’s owner, Val Moore, was looking for. Garnering exclusives to premieres, actors, producers and directors, BlackFilm.com was groundbreaking in a time when there were few sites regularly updating movie news–especially with a Black focus.
Wilson, who is also the co-President of the Black Film Critics Circle, was one of the first to break the new crop of actors like Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington and Columbus Short when no one was. Now, 13 years later, with five million page views a month and a reputation for breaking news first, the niche-specific site still successfully promotes Black cinema and Black talent like none other. The well-respected movie buff sat down with BlackEnterprise.com as part of Black Blogger Month to talk about African Americans, film and their presence in the blogosphere.
I choose a website as the vehicle to promote Black films because…
I wanted to promote films of color and the talent in front and behind the camera so that people were aware of them. Many times most of the major media outlets would rather focus on the “inâ€ films or talent, and I wanted to give some presence to those projects and talent who may not get that opportunity.
The Black spending dollar is important in the film industry because…
We spend as much as anyone else does when going to the theater to view films. Although there is a lack of Black films presented in a majority of theaters, that hasn’t deterred African Americans from seeing other heavily commercialized films such as Hunger Games or Harry Potter. At the same time, I feel that if Black films were given the same amount of theater count as others, we would see an increase in box office profits and therefore a positive sign for the future.
The biggest misconception Hollywood has about Black audiences is…
That Black audiences don’t come out to support their own films in droves, when the truth is that there aren’t enough theaters where the films play in. Let’s not forget how Tyler Perry shocked the industry when he first entered the business or when the box office experts predicted that Will Packer‘s Takers would take in a few million at the gate but made an unexpected $20 million in its opening weekend. It’s about how much faith Hollywood has in Black films and how marketing plays out.
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