Why aren't urban blacks supporting Talk To Me?

I was going to put this in the Pit, but if I, with effort, tone down my language it might stay in Cafe Society.

I am sick and tired of groups who bitch and moan about how Hollywood (which to them usually encompasses ALL movies, even Indies and foreign films) NEVER makes movies for them, but when a movie that would be perfect for them comes out, they don’t go to see it. They don’t support it, and so why should people who finance movies go to the bother and expense of financing other movies suitable for that group? Among many examples, I saw it happen recently with Duma, an absolutely PERFECT family movie, that died a horrible death after it opened in Chicago and nobody went to see it (well, except my husband and me, and Roger Ebert). If it had done well here, it would have opened in other cities too.

I see it happening again with the excellent film Talk To Me . When I saw it on opening day, there were only a few people in the audience, and all of the faces were white. It’s a fantastic movie, and blacks should be embracing it. It tells about a slice of their history, is uplifting, funny, moving, incredibly well-acted (Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Taraji P. Henson, Cedric the Entertainer among others), is directed by a highly respected black woman (Kasi Lemmons, who directed Eve’s Bayou) and, amazingly, is NOT about a white person who has a powerful effect on black people (see Freedom Writers and any number of other empowerment movies). If that weren’t enough, it’s got some damned fine music in it.

It’s dying at the box office.

After playing for 3 weeks, it’s made a lousy $2,097,000 playing in 187 theaters. People in smaller cities will never get a chance to see it in the theater because urban blacks in the cities where it’s playing are not supporting it the way it should be supported. Why? Why will Who’s Your Caddy? make more money in one day than Talk To Me has made in 3 weeks? Talk To Me is not an esoteric indie film. It’s a highly entertaining and interesting mainstream film, a film that whites and blacks and anyone who likes films should enjoy.

Sure, it’ll do ok on DVD, but it still should be doing better in the theater. It’s a damned shame.
Next up: El Cantante, which, by all accounts so far is a good movie, will probably die because Puerto Ricans won’t show up in droves to support it. I hope they prove me wrong.

The Greek community got it right, at least, when they supported My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Please tell me that last line is a whoosh.

You do realize, I hope, that box office numbers are color blind?

Because maybe blacks aren’t judging a movie that they should be embracing. People like things for various reasons. I’m not white, but most of the movies I love all involve white people as main characters. People don’t always want to see a “slice of their history”–sometimes they just want to be entertained.

Why are you saying this here? Go tell the urban blacks. Go tell them the movies they should be watching as black people.

Believe me, I get the frustration over good movies that wither on the vine, but do we need to call out specific groups to support this movie? Given the numbers of white people and black people in this country, there would be more impact if every white person went out and saw it. More white people are probably going to see Who’s Your Caddy as well.
PS I agree I’m going to vomit the next time I sit through an ad for another movie about a white person rushing in to save the day for some hapless, misguided not-white people who can’t get their act together without intervention.

Because Martin Lawrence doesn’t run around wide-eyed chasing a white woman and then get tarred and feathered? (“Black Knight” - $33,422,806 Box Office Gross)

Because Eddie Murphy doesn’t dress up in a fat suit and impersonate a beastly and subhuman black woman? (“Norbit” - $95,323,496)

Because one of the Wayans brothers doesn’t dress as a foul-mouthed baby and makes jokes about sucking white boobie? (“Little Man” - $58,255,287)

Because two more Wayans don’t dress in “whiteface” and talk like valley girls? (“White Chicks” - $69,148,997)’

I have to agree with Delphica. Believe me, Eq, I feel your pain. Eve’s Bayou is one of my alltime faves; it even lives on my “staff picks” shelf at work. I even have a vague memory that I told *you *about it, though I may be mixing it up with something else.

Anyway, I’m disappointed that Talk to Me isn’t the biggest blockbuster of the year. But, A) I don’t think anyone is shocked; it’s not a Michael Bay movie. And B) the people who AREN’T seeing it are of all races, and it muddles the issue to make the connections you make in your OP.

Unless you can break those numbers down by race, they’re not specifically relevant to the OP.

Maybe they should do what a desperate Spike Lee did in a sad attempt to drum up business for Malcolm X - tell blacks to go out and see it- even take off of work if you have to.

You’re committing a pretty standard logical fallacy, although I can’t remember the name for it. Compositional fallacy, maybe? Whatever. You see it a lot on the boards, when someone will say, “In thread A, you people were saying Y. In thread B, you were saying X. Which is it?” When the truth is, none of the people in thread A have participated in thread B at all. They’re two seperate groups, but because they happen to share one common characteristic (in this case, posting to the Straight Dope) it’s assumed that they all have the same opinion.

You’re doing the same thing here. Sure, some blacks have complained that there aren’t enough good black films being made. But not all blacks are making that complaint. Only a small percentage of them are. I suspect that if every single black person who wanted to see more representation in the box office went to see this film, it probably still wouldn’t be a success, because there just aren’t that many people who give a shit about this particular issue, even within the black community.

Plus, no matter how good it may be, its still a minor film with a modest budget about someone most people have never heard of- I didn’t know who the guy was two weeks ago, and I’m still not 100% sure. Also, I don’t think a similar biopic of a white contemporary would be setting box office records, either, unless it had a huge star. Small budget means very few commercials, very little awareness. I knew it was coming out but didn’t know when or what the title was, and I’m fairly aware of most new movies.

Just pointing out the success of some other recent “black movies.”

…which still begs lissener’s response.

Unless those movies were more successful due to black ticket buyers and not white ones, it’s irrelevant.

I’ve been wanting to see Talk to Me. It had very little pre-release publicity, but great buzz – at least on NPR. I don’t think I’ve seen a single tv ad.

Even if every black person went to a movie, that still wouldn’t make it a blockbuster.

I don’t know why the OP is blaming black people for this, as if black people are the ones who dictate whether a movie becomes successful or not. How can a group that comprises 13% of the population be blamed for a movie not being popular? Where is the ire for the white people who are going to see that awful Adam Sandler movie? What, only white people can watch movies that they wanna see without guilt?

Black people do support “good” movies. I don’t know a black person who hasn’t watched Eve’s Bayou or The Color Purple a million times over. It’s white people who take one look at an all-black cast and decide that the movie is inferior. They’ll look at a movie like Hustle and Flow and disparage it as yet another “gangsta” film, but have no problem watching Goodfellas, Casino, orThe Godfather. Does the OP really blame black people for Eve’s Bayou not being popular? Ha! That’s rich, really. We should do a poll; I’m betting a higher percentage of black Dopers have watched that movie (and will watch the newest Don Cheadle movie) than white Dopers.

Better yet, ask how many white people watched Tyler Perry’s series of films? Those movies are hugely popular among black people and are full of uplifting, if not preachy, messages. No, they aren’t going to win any Sundance awards, but why should this be the only metric of quality?

You know, I also roll my eyes at black people who beat the “there’s no good images out there for us” drum. For every stupid TV show like The Parkers (which still manages to make me laugh, despite my ambivalence towards Monique), there are good shows like Girlfriends or Living Single (sadly existing only on reruns). Martin is one of the funniest sitcoms ever, superior IMHO to Seinfield and Friends in both writing and casting. Yes, there is buffoonery, but buffoonery is comic gold. Where would Kosmo Cramer be without buffoonery? SNL would be non-existent without buffoonery. Sometimes I think some black people think we have to be portrayed just like white people for us to think the image is respectful. Sorry, I’m not buying that. I only care about laughing. I’m not going to laugh at stupid, stereotypical shit, but that doesn’t mean I only want to watch stuff that’s been arbitrarily labeled as high-brow and meaningful. Guess I’m not a snob like that (although I will not be watching Who’s Your Caddy?)

When Talk To Me comes to my neighborhood–if it ever does–I will definitely watch it. And if not, it will be on my Netflix que. Not because I care about supporting black cinema (I don’t don’t care about it, but it’s not at the top of my priority list). It’s because I love Don Cheadle.

The only theater where I’ve seen previews for Talk to Me in was an art house. If that’s the demographic that the movie is being shopped to, then no, most likely the ‘urban blacks’ won’t get to see it, because it’s not being shown in their neighborhoods.

According to Fandango, Talk to Me is being shown in ONE theater in the Seattle area today (that includes Tacoma).

But it’s only the “urban blacks” that you berate, huh? Whites must have the luxury of skipping out on “excellent films” and supporting tripe instead. But apparently blacks don’t because many people (put in italics because it’s not just a complaint voiced by blacks) complain about underrepresentation of positive black characters in movies and TV.

Nevermind the fact that many whites will take one look at all mostly black cast and knee-jerkedly think “that’s a Black Movie…not for me”. Your OP actually supports that narrow-minded view, as it implies that the racial composition of an audience should mirror the composition of the cast. Mirror it so much, in fact, that the poor white turnout for Talk to Me doesn’t even merit your attention. It’s the blacks who should take all the blame for whatever its fate should be at the box-office.

Even if Puerto Ricans showed up in droves to support this movie, what in your ever lovin freakin mind would make you think that’s all it takes to make this movie thrive at the box-office? Their numbers are a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the population.

I saw the movie. I didn’t think it was that good. Great acting, but quite poor directing. Combined with a limited release, could that be the reason people aren’t seeing it?