Proud Mary might not be that proud after all.
The Taraji P. Henson-starrer was one of the years most anticipated films when the trailer dropped last year. Hensons turn as Mary, a hitwoman working for an organized crime family in Boston, seemed like the black response to Atomic Blondethat is until this year rolled around, where it seems like Sony and Screen Gems have completely dropped the ball on promoting it.
Proud Mary is out this Friday, and social media has been flooded not with excitement for the film but confusion as to why its not being pushed harder. Is it a case of a studio underselling a black film, as is customary in Hollywood? Or does Sony want to hide the fact that the film might not be very good?
Its not screening for critics this week, so dont expect any advance reviews of Proud Mary. Furthermore, critics attending the films press junket werent allowed to screen the film first, so interviews with Taraji will have to remain vague as its a little hard to discuss a film that you havent seen yet with an actress.
Henson herself has even voiced frustration with the promotion of the film.
In a pre-Christmas interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Henson said shes been begging and pleading my connections and doing whatever I can to make this movie the best it can be. I dont just put my name on stuff just to say it; I get down and dirty. [Studios] never expect [black films] to do well overseas. Meanwhile, you go overseas and what do you see? People trying to look like African-Americans with Afros and dressing in hip-hop fashions. To say that black culture doesnt sell well overseas, thats a lie. Somebody just doesnt want to do their job and promote the film overseas. Do you not have people streaming my Christmas specials in Australia? Come on, yall! I dont understand the thinking. Send me over there, and if it fails, then we dont do it again, but why not try? If I knew this movie was gonna make money domestically, I would try to get more money overseas. Its business!
Traditionally, Hollywood has blamed lack of interest in black films overseas as the reason why they dont promote them there. But just last year, Get Out raked in big money overseasas did Hidden Figures the year beforeand historically, films like Coming to America, Beverly Hills Cop 2, Independence Day, and Bad Boys 2 have, too. If anything, its a systemic problem of assuming black films undersell in America and in turn, fail overseas. Henson starred in Hidden Figures and her television drama Empire screens internationally, so why not develop her into a burgeoning international box-office star?
As Octavia Spencer, Hensons Hidden Figures co-star, said, [Will Smith] was told the same thingthat he wasnt going to be taken to promote his film. Had he not paid for himself to fly all over the world that very first time, he would not be an international box-office star. So they have to start investing and taking black actresses and actors across the world just like they do with unknown white actors. They need to do the same thing for black actors. If you dont know em, why would you go support the film?
Speaking of Smith, even his critically panned film Bright managed to be a success for Netflix (a sequel has already been greenlit) and trust me, Proud Mary would have to do some heavy lifting to be worse than that trash.
Henson has been a star for decades and its a shame that there isnt a bigger push for Proud Mary. This week, I accidentally stumbled upon a Facebook Live interview with the actress that lasted less than 10 minutes and had her scrolling through an iPad to find fans questions to answer in real time. It looked like a thrown-together operation from a flailing media company that has decided to pivot to video.
Ive been rooting for Henson for years. Fans are excited to see the movie and want to support it and help studios realize that black filmsand films starring womenhave a hungry audience that craves more than a few tweets and TV commercials. As Henson told THR, If a man can do it, why cant we? I feel like women get better as we age. Give us the same chances as you give men.
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Netflix, Amazon Billions Lure Hollywood Hitmakers to Jump Ship
Netflix Inc.’s surprise $300 million deal to poach Ryan Murphy from 21st Century Fox Inc. shows just how easy it’s getting for rich tech companies to steal Hollywood’s top talent.
Netflix, which released its first original series just six years ago, has now lured two of the most successful producers in TV — Murphy and Shonda Rhimes — from two of the industry’s most valuable companies. Rhimes, the producer of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” bolted from Walt Disney Co.’s ABC in August.
No longer content to license shows from other media companies, Netflix and fellow technology giant Amazon.com Inc. are throwing money at Hollywood’s top talent to lure them away from those studios. They are upending the TV business in the process, driving up the cost of talent and weakening many of the traditional powers.
Hollywood studios have endured threats from outsiders before, but the list of talent making the jump grows by the day.
Netflix, with an annual budget of $8 billion, is paying Murphy, the producer of “American Horror Story,” about $300 million over five years to make shows and movies for the streaming service. The money will support overhead for Ryan Murphy Productions along with his fees for writing, directing and producing.
Murphy was in the process of negotiating a new deal at Fox when Disney agreed to buy its crosstown rival for more than $52 billion. Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger made a personal call to Murphy, assuring him that “the reason Disney was interested in buying Fox is they believed in the assets and the executives and their creators,” the producer recalled. “He was very sweet and transparent and kind.”
Rhimes was the biggest name to leave traditional TV for streaming when she announced she was signing a long-term deal with Netflix. She’d worked at ABC for more than a decade, becoming one of the few showrunners and TV writers known to the public.
Rhimes is also one of the few prominent black showrunners in Hollywood, and has led the way in creating more diversity onscreen. Netflix gave her more than $100 million to ease the transition in a multiyear deal.
Robert Kirkman, the creator of cable TV’s biggest hit, “The Walking Dead,” signed a two-year deal with Amazon last August, days before Netflix announced its deal with Rhimes. Amazon spent an estimated $4.5 billion on video programming last year and plans to increase its budget this year. Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won the Golden Globe award for best TV comedy.
Netflix knows its customers love comic book movies and TV shows thanks to a pair of deals with Disney, owner of Marvel Studios. So last year it acquired the company that published graphic novels “Wanted” and “Kick-Ass,” both of which were adapted into hit movies for Universal Pictures.
Netflix and Millarworld founder Mark Millar will jointly produce films, series and children’s shows based on comic-book characters for the streaming service, while the publisher will also continue to make comics under the Netflix label. The streaming service will turn some of Millar’s other creations into film and TV properties that can replace Marvel when its deal with Disney ends.
New Golden Boy
Shawn Levy rose through the ranks of Hollywood by directing comedy films for major studios, including “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “Night at the Museum.” Yet he has since been reborn as one of the hottest producers in TV thanks to “Stranger Things,” the surprise Netflix fantasy hit. The streaming service locked up Levy’s TV business last year, and now funnels all kinds of high-concept projects his way.
Amazon has also allied itself with Sharon Horgan, the British comic and actress who created its critically beloved comedy “Catastrophe.” Though Horgan has a show on HBO (“Divorce”), Amazon gets first dibs on all future work.
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