As much happiness as The Best Man Holiday raking in $30.6 million this weekend brings (a figure that almost trumps Thor: The Dark World), the news is quickly soiled by the reality that once again, some (white) people find themselves shocked that movies with predominantly black casts can make tons of money.
If you combine a couple of brown folks and toss in love and kisses, it can equal lots and lots of green. Math isn’t my strong suit either, but this is a pretty easy equation to memorize.
Of course, such confusion is commonplace. It happened with the runaway success of Think Like A Man just a year ago. (Note that word in the Los Angeles Times headline.) The same goes for reactions to Tyler Perry and his first few films’ box office grosses. Think of any successful black movie released in the last 15 years and you fill find a familiar narrative from those who choose to be willfully ignorant. In fact, the response to The Best Man Holiday’s success is pretty much identical to that of The Best Man’s opening weekend.
So while it's fair to roast the cultural dinosaur that is USA Today for its initial headline “'Holiday’ Nearly Beat ‘Thor’ as Race-Themed Films Soar,” other mainstream outlets feigning shock over a highly publicized movie starring an ensemble black cast performing about as well as a similar movie released a year prior are no less frustrating. Other outlets may have employed better coded language, but they’re just as guilty when it comes to sharing the same lowered expectations about the heavily black female audience Holiday was marketed to. These expectations may come directly from the studios—who at this point, ought to know better—but anyone in the business of sharing information should be more informed and report accordingly.
It was not that long ago that a black romantic comedy like Boomerang was able to gross $70 million stateside and more than $60 million abroad. If you combine a couple of brown folks and toss in love and kisses, it can equal lots and lots of green. Math isn’t my strong suit either, but this is a pretty easy equation to memorize.
Alas, no one bothers, so now we have to go back to “debating” whether black movies can do something most people with a clue already know. The next step is to speculate about whether or not the clueless execs in Hollywood will push for more black movies. We know the answer to this, too: Yes, ‘cause cash rules everything around there.
Audiences—black, white, and other—will enjoy the next wave of the black romantic comedies already on the horizon, but I’m already wondering when Hollywood will decide that it's bored with black people again.
When asked about the sudden rash for slave-themed movies, Alfre Woodard told Shadow and Act that there would be more, but, “It's not because there are suddenly some black people that are going to do the stories, because there have always been black people trying to get all of our stories done. It's just serendipitous that it happened right now.”
The Best Man Holiday star Nia Long echoed this point with Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club,” noting how cyclical the trend of a high number of black movies being made can be. As The Best Man Holiday director explained himself, "It's a familiar refrain, and it's getting a little tired. I thought we had a chance to do something special." Happy as I am with the sequel’s success, I’m so bored with this other show surrounding every single successful black-led film.
It’s exhausting to have to continuously prove your worth, especially if you’ve already proven it enough times already.