Tyler Perry knows well the risks and rewards associated with making films that feature an all-black cast.
Though Perry has made a successful career of producing all-black movies, he knows firsthand Hollywood’s resistance when it comes to funding and distributing projects they fear will not be financially viable.
Perry recently published an open letter on his website in reference to George Lucas’ public statements that films featuring an all black cast are on the verge of extinction.
“Ask any executive at a Hollywood Studio why, and most of them will tell you one of two things. The first thing they’ll say is that DVD sales have become very soft, so it’s hard for a movie with an all-black cast to break even,” Perry wrote. “Secondly they’ll say, most movies are now dependent on foreign sales to be successful and most ‘black’ movies don’t -well in foreign markets. So what that means is you will begin to see less and less films that star an all-black cast. Isn’t that sad in a 2012 America? Somewhere along the way we still haven’t realized that we are more alike then not.”
Perry credits Lucas for his willingness to fund and produce a film based on the Tuskegee Airmen, and he encourages everyone who hopes to see more of these movies to support the film during its opening weekend.
“George decided to take a huge risk by entirely funding the movie and releasing it himself,” Perry wrote. “What a guy! For him to believe so strongly in this story is amazing. I think we should pull together and get behind this movie. 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.”
This is not Perry’s first gesture of support for the Red Tails film. In December, he hosted a private screening of the film for more than 300 guests at his home.
Perry affirms in his open letter, “Red Tails is an important story about, not just black history, but American history… Please take your kids, you will enjoy it and so will they. There is a lot of action and adventure and also a great history lesson to be learned.”
Perry’s letter ends with a sentiment he is hoping we will all cosign with a trip to the movies this weekend:
“George, I just want to say, thank you for having the courage to do this.”
–kathleen cross for rollingout.com