Author Topic: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers  (Read 12044 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

  • Landlord
  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 9973
    • View Profile
Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« on: August 14, 2013, 11:07:11 am »
Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
5:00 AM PDT 8/14/2013 by Pamela McClintock

"Lee Daniels' The Butler"
A who's who of black entrepreneurs, a Ukrainian-born billionaire, an NBA star and a wealthy New Orleans family helped back the $30 million drama.


No independent film is easy to get off the ground, but Lee Daniels' The Butler stands apart. A complex arrangement has led to 41 producers and executive producers credited on the historical drama, which opens Aug. 16 (as a way of comparison, indie Oscar winner The King's Speech had 16). Finding the $30 million budget meant uniting a disparate group, including one of America's top African-American female entrepreneurs, a former NBA star, a Ukrainian-born billionaire and an aspiring young film producer from one of New Orleans' wealthiest families.

The saga began in early 2011, when the late producer Laura Ziskin and her partner Pam Williams approached Sheila Johnson about helping to finance a movie based on the true story of Eugene Allen, a black butler who worked at the White House for eight presidents and had a unique view of the civil rights movement.

Johnson, who grew the BET network into a multibillion-dollar company with her former husband, Robert Johnson, before selling it to Viacom, is now vice chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, making her the first African-American female to have an ownership stake in three pro sports teams, the NBA's Washington Wizards, the NHL's Washington Capitals and the WNBA's Washington Mystics, of which she is president and general manager. She also is CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, a management company based in Middleburg, Va., that owns a string of luxury properties.

Johnson, who has financed four socially-minded documentaries, was immediately intrigued by The Butler and went home with Danny Strong's adapted script tucked away in her bag. "I read it, and then I read it again. I called them and said, 'This movie has to be made,'" says Johnson, who quickly arranged a meeting with Daniels and signed on as an executive producer. "In Hollywood, no one wants to step up to the plate to support African-American films."

Putting up $2.7 million of her own money first, Johnson then embarked on an aggressive campaign to recruit other prominent African-American investors. "I wanted to set a precedent," she said. Most people never got back to her but she was able to bring aboard a handful of black investors, including Earl W. Stafford, an entrepreneur and philanthropist best known for organizing The People's Inaugural Project, which paid for more than 300 disadvantaged youths to come to the nation's capital for President Obama's 2008 inauguration, and Harry I. Martin Jr., president/CEO of Intelligent Decisions, a leading provider of IT services to the government (they both have an executive producing credit). Brett Johnson, her son and a shoe designer, also put up funds.
On the West Coast, a crisis was looming. Ziskin died from cancer in June 2011, and director Lee Daniels was frantic about the fate of Butler. He and his producing partner Hilary Shor appealed to veteran indie player Cassian Elwes, with whom they were working on The Paperboy. "I told him I would help," says Elwes, who signed on as a producer. As Johnson and Williams -- who has remained a driving force and has the first producing credit -- continued to solicit funds, Elwes pursued more traditional avenues. However, many doubted the film's international prospects despite a star-studded cast.

In spring 2012, Ukrainian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik's British financing and production company Icon U.K. boarded Butler and put up a $6 million guarantee against foreign presales (Blavatnik is listed as an executive producer). Several months later, Stuart Ford's IM Global took the project to Cannes, where he closed $6 million in sales to foreign distributors. Two other key equity investors also entered the scene: former NBA star Michael Finley, whom Williams brought in as an executive producer, and Buddy Patrick, who is from a wealthy New Orleans family (he has a leading producer credit).

Daniels and his sprawling cast -- led by Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey (who sources say did not contribute money) -- arrived in New Orleans in September 2012 with a cadre of producers. Within days, Sheila Johnson, who was on set, received a call from Harvey Weinstein, who is forever on the hunt for possible awards contenders. "I ran back and told Pam, 'You'll never guess who called,' " she recalls. The Weinstein Co. closed a deal for U.S. distribution rights without seeing any footage, committing to spend $30 million on marketing.

Weather delays would plague the shoot, driving up the cost. Elaborate sets and riot scenes also added to the bill. Originally, the budget was set at $25 million, but it rose to $30 million. "It got very hairy," says Elwes. Johnson agrees, recalling how nervous Daniels was about shooting the cotton field scenes. "I remember Lee saying, 'I hope we don't have to glue cotton to the plants.' Luckily, they were in bloom when we got there," Johnson says.

Ultimately, the investors -- some of whom are anonymous -- put up a total of $16 million in private equity. The rest was covered through $6 million in tax rebates, $6 million in foreign presales and $2 million in gap financing.

"It's a huge achievement," says Weinstein Co. COO David Glasser. "This is not your typical independent movie. It's spectacular how fierce these investors were in their quest to get this movie made. Harvey and I love it when a group of unknown people come together like this."

Adds Daniels: "They put their money on the table when the studios wouldn't. It's a story that's a movie within itself."

Offline Metro

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 687
    • View Profile
    • Monmouth University
Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2013, 05:33:34 pm »

It is past time people disentangle domestic service from minstrelsy.  This project reminds me of the HBO production, "10,000 Black Men Named George." (http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/261222/10-000-Black-Men-Named-George/overview)

Militance grew from the dignity these men and women maintained, while suffering the original Jim Crow on the most personal terms imaginable.

Another resource in the same spirit can be found here. (http://www.amazon.com/The-Path-Freedom-Families-Jersey/dp/1596299924)

Dean Walter Greason
The Honors School
Monmouth University
(twitter) @worldprofessor

Offline Redjack

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 2003
  • i've never had a hero. i don't worship people.
    • View Profile
    • a dreamnasium
Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2013, 04:15:02 pm »
no. militancy grew from human beings having a boot on their necks.


and from them taking public stands, in courtrooms and on streets, at great personal risk to themselves and their loved ones. It did NOT come from serving in silence and waiting for God to deliver.


God doesn't deliver. People do.


« Last Edit: August 17, 2013, 10:39:33 am by Redjack »
Soon you will come to know. When the bullet hits the bone.

Offline Metro

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 687
    • View Profile
    • Monmouth University
Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2013, 06:12:14 am »

Cecil Gaines was not waiting silently for God to deliver.  Neither was William Ham.
Dean Walter Greason
The Honors School
Monmouth University
(twitter) @worldprofessor

Offline Redjack

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 2003
  • i've never had a hero. i don't worship people.
    • View Profile
    • a dreamnasium
Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2013, 10:18:47 am »
cecil gaines is not a real person.
Soon you will come to know. When the bullet hits the bone.

Offline Metro

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 687
    • View Profile
    • Monmouth University
militance
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2013, 11:18:44 am »

Can fictional characters be the basis of principled analysis? 

Or, is your point to criticize some aspect of Eugene Allen's life because the Cecil Gaines character did not exhibit the behavior/attitudes you criticized?

Eugene Allen profile
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/parishioners-remember-eugene-allen-as-a-devoted-peacemaker/2013/08/16/2248aeca-05e6-11e3-9259-e2aafe5a5f84_story.html


Dean Walter Greason
The Honors School
Monmouth University
(twitter) @worldprofessor

Offline Redjack

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 2003
  • i've never had a hero. i don't worship people.
    • View Profile
    • a dreamnasium
Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2013, 07:19:47 pm »
My point is movies like this movie and THE HELP are not accurate depictions of history and when people, black, white, whatever, substitute fiction for real facts, they are hurting themselves.


in the case of black history they are hurting themselves a lot. too much.


Lee Daniels' track record of film making, were he not black, would have engendered picket lines around every theater in which they were shown. Oprah Winfrey's anti black male string of films (produced or starred in) is essentially the same. Based on the ad campaign, reports of the "niggerification" in the script and the track records of those involved (ironically not the track record of Danny Strong) there is no way I will sit though another of these Steppin Filmit productions.


They get the SGT WATERS award from me.


I am ashamed and saddened that so many of "my people" are so hungry for images of themselves in film that they will pay good money to have the same old bullsh*t stereotypes reinforced. Not by white people, this time, but by people like us.


Very well-trained dogs, it seems.


Personally, I prefer wolves. They have spines.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2013, 01:09:26 am by Redjack »
Soon you will come to know. When the bullet hits the bone.

Offline Emperorjones

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 10498
    • View Profile
Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2013, 12:14:13 am »
I agree a lot with Red Jack on this one. First off, Daniels remains on my crap list for Precious, so I wasn't too keen about The Butler. And when I first saw the trailer, it rankled me a lot. "This is that mane's world and we just livin' in it"-David Banner told his son early in the trailer and Forest later on saying "I know how to serve" and I'm like, is that the message we really need to be sending and embracing?  Despite the intriguing casting, the trailer was so full of sentimental crap I couldn't help roll my eyes. The Butler changing Kennedy's heart? Oprah slapping down her black nationalist son for being ungrateful.

Yes, our history is replete with maids and butlers and our Hollywood depictions-historically-are definitely filled with them. But that's not our entire history, why can't we show more of that history? I don't buy the arguments anymore that if we don't support The Butler we'll never get to those films. We aren't going to get to those films, not through Hollywood. Though even if we might somehow luck up and get one through the system, will it be supported by us? I can't believe that Fruitvale Station, despite also getting a lot of critical praise, was basically ignored by black audiences while The Butler is off to the races.

Granted, Fruitvale doesn't boast the big stars or got the big media/marketing push, and it's a definite kind of film than The Butler IMO, still it bothers me how black audiences didn't show up for it. Fruitvale is a tough film, its not a 'feel good' film like The Butler, I'm not even sure if it's inspirational like I'm sure some will claim The Butler to be (like they did with Precious) but I thought Fruitvale was vital. Then again, maybe it just shows how alike black and white audiences are. We both have been fed a diet of negative, subservient, subhuman, less than images of blacks and we are attuned to that and respond to it. That's why we support stuff like The Help or The Butler and cling to that as 'our' history so much. I think for whites it's coming from a different place, it reaffirms their place on top in the racial hierarchy and for blacks, it's like we feel we have to trudge in the mire-that we can't forget history or whatever-yet we do that all the time, and we put one part of history over others. I cringe that The Butler will do well, that it will get Oscar nods, that people will consider it an important film, that it 'elevates' or 'starts a conversation' and it will do none of those things.

If any film was going to that or do so this year it would've been, could be, Fruitvale IMO. But Fruitvale is now, it deals with thorny issues today, and The Butler is a fill good romp through a glossed over past that we can pretend has been placed in the dust bin of history, now that Obama's election has opened all doors  ::). In a way, The Butler is the perfect film for the Obama era. Be quiet, 'dignified', unobtrusive, ready to serve, and get in where you fit in.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2013, 12:21:19 am by Emperorjones »

Offline Metro

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 687
    • View Profile
    • Monmouth University
militance
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2013, 04:49:03 am »

I guess I try to watch something before I criticize it.  I have done this already with LDTB.  There is plenty to criticize, but the representations offered here so far have little to do with the actual film.

LDTB is not Precious nor The Help. LDTB focuses little on the actual service of the job and more on the different approaches to political change.  Perhaps if we want more we can join/start a Kickstarter or Indiegogo for Danny Glover's Nat Turner project (or just watch the Troublesome Property production PBS offered a few years ago).

As for the politics of now, LDTB doesn't oppose Fruitvale.  It gives audiences ways to move forward to stop the genocide represented by the Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin incidents.  LDTB explicitly characterizes the black experience in North America as a "200-year Holocaust."  In the end, the main character endorses the radical politics of divestiture to free South Africa, celebrating Pan-Africanism as the foundation for family restoration.  The son's radicalism (though clearly nonviolent) liberates the father. 

Wolves with spines confront hegemony on its terms, in its home, at its points of origin.  Getting beaten and killed in the streets by its employees and leaving little to change the circumstance for those who love you wastes effort, energy, and lives.  If anyone wants to build or expand your local organizations to confront injustice today, please message me.  I'm going to Oakland/SF, Arlington & Houston, Toronto, Kingston, Orlando, New Haven, Harlem, Newark, and Philly in the next four months to grow membership, funding, and programming to provide jobs, income, and business ownership.  From efforts to provide police oversight to building cells for occupying political and corporate spaces to protest inequality, I do that work every day. 

History and literature work hand-in-hand to expand freedom - in the past, present, and future.  How can we spread the word on your projects to contribute to the larger freedom movement?
Dean Walter Greason
The Honors School
Monmouth University
(twitter) @worldprofessor

Offline Battle

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 10456
  • M.A.X. Commander
    • View Profile
Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2013, 06:21:06 am »
Oprah is back in the movies after 15 years
Forrest & Oprah

(Associated Press/ NEW YORK

The day before Oprah Winfrey began shooting "Lee Daniels' The Butler," she was at the White House, talking to the president.

Her access to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (this particular trip was for a 2012 campaign interview) is considerably greater than her character's in the film. She plays Gloria Gaines, the wife of a long-serving White House butler (Forest Whitaker), whose service spans seven presidents and decades of civil rights sea changes.

"They said, 'Do you want to talk to some butlers?'" Winfrey recalled in a recent interview. "I said, 'No. You got some butlers' wives? I'll talk to them.'

It was 15 years ago the last time Winfrey was on the big screen, in the 1998 adaptation of Toni Morrison's novel "Beloved," produced by Winfrey's Harpo Productions. In the time since, she's been slightly busy. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" grew into an enormous cultural force. Her work on the side in film (most memorably in Steven Spielberg's "The Color Purple," for which she received an Oscar nomination) took a back seat to being a television icon and an entrepreneur.

"I would only give my time to something that really mattered to me," she says. "I'm not interested in being in the movies for movies' sake."

But Daniels was persistent. He had sought Winfrey for the role Macy Gray ended up playing in 2009's "Precious" (Winfrey became a producer) and several other projects.

"It was hard," Daniels says of the pursuit. "I was looking for something to do with her, and I kept telling her: 'You have got to come back to work,' because she was magnificent in 'The Color Purple.' I wanted it selfishly for myself. I wanted to see her on the screen."

"I gave her a script she couldn't refuse," says Daniels of Danny Strong's screenplay. "I hooked her in. Once I got her in, it was over."

The timing was poor for Winfrey, who was then trying to get her cable network, OWN, off the ground. Though the network is now running more smoothly (it recently became profitable), the start was rocky, trying to find a programming identity and lure viewers to a new destination on the dial.

"I thought it was an important story to tell, even though I was in the midst of cra-a-a-zy business with my network," says Winfrey. "I said to Lee so many times: 'Lee, Lee, Lee. I cannot do this. This is not the time for me.' He was like, 'I'm doing it.
I'm going ahead.

And you told me, you promised me, Oprah!'"

While Winfrey was making "The Butler," she was knee-deep in running OWN: prepping shows, shopping for others and negotiating to bring Tyler Perry in as a producer (a move that's been a big factor in OWN's turnaround). But she regrets the balancing act.

"The way to do film is to take yourself out of your other life, do it, and then go back to your other life," Winfrey says. "I almost had a nervous breakdown."

"I hope something else comes along that will mean as much to me as this does, so that I would take the time and the effort to get it right," she adds. "It's work. It's no plaything."

Picking up acting again after a decade and a half wasn't easy, either, even for a seasoned show-business performer like Winfrey. She hired an acting coach (Susan Batson, who has coached Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman), she says, "because I was scared." Though OWN made for constant distractions, Winfrey otherwise reveled in acting again.

"On the days that I was in it, in it, in the character, it felt really good," she says. "It's a wonderful muscle to get to exercise again. I really do feel like that's exactly what I was doing. It's like putting away your instrument and not touching it, and then going back in and pulling it out. It felt rewarding."

The smoking and drinking Gaines is a rollicking departure for Winfrey. She's a sometimes surly housewife, flirting with an affair and overflowing with jealousy that her husband spends so much of his time wrapped up in another family's domestic life.  She mocks Jackie Kennedy's shoe closet and, with in an obvious wink to audiences, begs: "You know I want to go to the White House." In one memorable scene, she dances to "Soul Train." Had Daniels had his way, the part would have included nudity a  line Winfrey refused to cross.

But Winfrey, 59, has tirelessly promoted the film. Men like Whitaker's modest,  dignified character, she says "were the foundation of the African-American community."

"That is who we are," she says. "That is the heart and soul of who we are."

In recounting 20th-century African-American history, the film encourages conversation about racism. Many in the cast have been asked in interviews about their experiences, including Winfrey, who made news when she cited a Switzerland boutique that wouldn't show her a $38,000 purse. Her comments went around the world, bringing scrutiny,  denials and apologies.

At the film's Los Angeles premiere Monday night, she told The Associated Press that she's "really sorry that it got blown up."

"I was just referencing it as an example of being in a place where people don't expect that you would be able to be there," Winfrey said.

It is, though, the kind of dialogue Winfrey thrives in nurturing. It sounds almost like an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," one that would carefully tease out the viewpoints of everyone involved.

"I don't know whether I'll ever do a movie again," Winfrey says. "What I do know is  that my role in life is to open the heart space for people. That's what I tried to do for 25 years on the 'Oprah Show' is to let people see, through the stories that we told every day, a way in for themselves and a way out, if necessary. This movie also allows an opportunity for that in a way I didn't expect."

Weekend Box Office
August 16-18, 2013

1. "Lee Daniels' The Butler"
2.  "We're the Millers"
3.  "Elysium"
4.  "Kick-Ass 2"
5.  "Planes"
6. "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters"
7.  "Jobs"
8.  "2 Guns"
9.  "The Smurfs 2"
10.  "The Wolverine"


Offline Vic Vega

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 4148
    • View Profile
Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2013, 06:45:25 am »
Haven't seen either film yet.

I CAN opine on this tho:

Fruitvale Station came out in mid July on the same weekend that Grown Ups 2 and Pacific Rim came out. Fruitvale Station does not have a
name director or any star attached to it (tho it may make a star out of Mike B. Jordan).

The Butler came out in mid August and its only competition was Kick Ass 2, a sequel to a fluke cult hit. The Butler has Lee Daniels directing it and it stars...well who isn't in that movie?

There are dozens of non political reasons why Fruitvale didn't do well and most of them are more valid if you ask me.

I don't particularly buy the idea that Black folk avoided Fruitvale Station to watch The Butler instead, either. You ask me more Liberal Whites went to see the movie with Oprah in it than the movie where the brother pointlessly dies at the end. That kind of thing bums them out. For us, its just flat out painful so we aren't even entertaining watching it for the most part. 

Who needs to be reminded of @#$% that you worry about every day?

If anything we probably ran out to see Grown Ups 2 because Chris Rock was in it and it wasn't depressing and none of the Black folk in it were oppressed or torn up.

Unless its a hood flick and has action or whatever, we tend to avoid watch movies where we are broke/going thru turmoil. Perry does well with his melodramas where at least half of the Black folk in the movie have money.  Stuff like Caged Bird and I can Do Bad All By Myself appeals to some sisters sense of grievance. But even there the protagonist can't all be broke.

I'm sure that they were some Black folks that saw the Butler and not Fruitvale, but I don't think the divide between the two is as clear cut as all that.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2013, 06:48:02 am by Vic Vega »

Offline Redjack

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 2003
  • i've never had a hero. i don't worship people.
    • View Profile
    • a dreamnasium
Re: militance
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2013, 10:10:24 am »

I guess I try to watch something before I criticize it.  I have done this already with LDTB.  There is plenty to criticize, but the representations offered here so far have little to do with the actual film.


Luckily I'll never know.

Quote
LDTB is not Precious nor The Help. LDTB focuses little on the actual service of the job and more on the different approaches to political change.  Perhaps if we want more we can join/start a Kickstarter or Indiegogo for Danny Glover's Nat Turner project (or just watch the Troublesome Property production PBS offered a few years ago).


You're being snide but it's based on an assumption, at least in my case, that is false. You're implying that this film does something to enhance or support the "larger freedom movement." It does not. it is literally impossible for Daniels and Winfrey to have created such a film.

Quote
As for the politics of now, LDTB doesn't oppose Fruitvale.  It gives audiences ways to move forward to stop the genocide represented by the Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin incidents.  LDTB explicitly characterizes the black experience in North America as a "200-year Holocaust."  In the end, the main character endorses the radical politics of divestiture to free South Africa, celebrating Pan-Africanism as the foundation for family restoration.  The son's radicalism (though clearly nonviolent) liberates the father. 


Whoopee.

Quote
Wolves with spines confront hegemony on its terms, in its home, at its points of origin.  Getting beaten and killed in the streets by its employees and leaving little to change the circumstance for those who love you wastes effort, energy, and lives.  If anyone wants to build or expand your local organizations to confront injustice today, please message me.  I'm going to Oakland/SF, Arlington & Houston, Toronto, Kingston, Orlando, New Haven, Harlem, Newark, and Philly in the next four months to grow membership, funding, and programming to provide jobs, income, and business ownership.  From efforts to provide police oversight to building cells for occupying political and corporate spaces to protest inequality, I do that work every day. 


Good for you. But you do NOT last 30 years  on the White House serving staff by being politically VISIBLE much less confrontational. Any parity drawn between the two "positions" is false and corruptive.


Wasted effort, huh? I'm sure Medgar Evers will be happy to know his sacrifice means nothing to you. And there was this loudmouth preacher too. What was his name? I think he has a holiday now. And those three dead kids and the little girls killed at church. And the bus lady. What was her name again?  And stacks of others who ACTUALLY "changed the president's heart."

Quote
History and literature work hand-in-hand to expand freedom - in the past, present, and future.  How can we spread the word on your projects to contribute to the larger freedom movement?


Again, you're clearly trying to imply that this film has something to do with "the larger freedom movement" and that I, at least, am doing nothing in that respect. Both false. I've been active, either monetarily or physically or both, in helping "the downtrodden" for my entire life, not that I need to justify anything to you.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2013, 10:58:42 am by Redjack »
Soon you will come to know. When the bullet hits the bone.

Offline Redjack

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 2003
  • i've never had a hero. i don't worship people.
    • View Profile
    • a dreamnasium
« Last Edit: August 19, 2013, 03:06:34 pm by Redjack »
Soon you will come to know. When the bullet hits the bone.

Offline Emperorjones

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 10498
    • View Profile
Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2013, 03:06:35 pm »
Haven't seen either film yet.

I CAN opine on this tho:

Fruitvale Station came out in mid July on the same weekend that Grown Ups 2 and Pacific Rim came out. Fruitvale Station does not have a
name director or any star attached to it (tho it may make a star out of Mike B. Jordan).

The Butler came out in mid August and its only competition was Kick Ass 2, a sequel to a fluke cult hit. The Butler has Lee Daniels directing it and it stars...well who isn't in that movie?

There are dozens of non political reasons why Fruitvale didn't do well and most of them are more valid if you ask me.

I don't particularly buy the idea that Black folk avoided Fruitvale Station to watch The Butler instead, either. You ask me more Liberal Whites went to see the movie with Oprah in it than the movie where the brother pointlessly dies at the end. That kind of thing bums them out. For us, its just flat out painful so we aren't even entertaining watching it for the most part. 

Who needs to be reminded of @#$% that you worry about every day?

If anything we probably ran out to see Grown Ups 2 because Chris Rock was in it and it wasn't depressing and none of the Black folk in it were oppressed or torn up.

Unless its a hood flick and has action or whatever, we tend to avoid watch movies where we are broke/going thru turmoil. Perry does well with his melodramas where at least half of the Black folk in the movie have money.  Stuff like Caged Bird and I can Do Bad All By Myself appeals to some sisters sense of grievance. But even there the protagonist can't all be broke.

I'm sure that they were some Black folks that saw the Butler and not Fruitvale, but I don't think the divide between the two is as clear cut as all that.

Granted I will give you the two release dates and The Butler's  people picked a very good release date for it. Perhaps a later date would have gotten a bit more notice for Fruitvale, but I doubt it. I'm assuming that The Butler got a wider release and much better marketing, plus it had big name stars including Oprah. Fruitvale was more a little engine that could and The Butler roared out the gate as Oscar bait.

There are people who don't want to be reminded of what's going on today or everyday as you put it, but that runs counter to some of the guilt arguments for watching the painful history represented by The Butler. For The Butler some might argue that we 'have' to watch it or face up or acknowledge this history. If some people are going to The Butler because of that, I don't see why they wouldn't go to Fruitvale. Further, The Butler might arguably trudge in more depictions of oppression than Fruitvale ever did, from what I've read about the story. For the most part the tragedy occupied a very small part of the film, though the entire project was building toward it. I think The Butler is more appealing because it is a safer story that can be seen as something of a historical relic, of a tragic past overcome, or so we like to tell ourselves. Whereas Fruitvale sort of undoes that narrative. So I do get that it's hard for people to deal with what's going on around them. Sometimes you just want escapism. I do too. I've seen just about every blockbuster this summer and spend tons of time on trivial pursuits. But other times I think it doesn't hurt to watch good films where black people are portrayed three-dimensionally and without an overdose of negativity. Just going on Precious, I had severe doubts I was going to get that with The Butler.

Beyond the painful subject matter I thought Fruitvale gave nuance performances and felt organic, without the overwrought melodrama or negativity that I got from Precious. I can't speak on what's in The Butler. The trailer was enough to turn me off.

I didn't say that more people purposely avoided Fruitvale to see The Butler. I'm sure there are people who watched both. What I did find curious was the relative lack of support among black audiences for Fruitvale as opposed to The Butler or other black films. To me, Fruitvale, despite the painful and tragic subject, seemed like the kind of contemporary black film that some have expressed a desire to see on various forums and articles. Yet we didn't show up in sufficient numbers to see it.

I disagree with you that we tend to avoid movies where we are going broke or in turmoil, because what is a hood movie if it doesn't involve those things? Of if they don't play a large role in either the story or are the setting and backdrop? Granted there is more interest in upper class or middle class romantic comedies, but even Tyler Perry touches on poverty. To his credit, some of Perry's films show various socioeconomic levels of black life, at times more than other black films do that seem to focus on either the rich or the poor.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2013, 03:08:53 pm by Emperorjones »

Offline Emperorjones

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 10498
    • View Profile
Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2013, 03:13:04 pm »
http://www.yourblackworld.net/2013/08/black-news/princeton-prof-says-the-butler-has-problematic-politics-and-troubling-images-of-women/


http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/harry-lennixs-take-on-lee-daniels-the-butler-and-it-aint-pretty

food for thought, Butler supporters.


What that professor said about the black power movement, that's one of the things that I thought was going to happen when I saw that Oprah slap scene. And I wasn't surprised about this film making Obama the end point of the civil rights struggle. Black liberal consensus, is a good term for that kind of rosy thinking.