Last week George Lucas made waves when he took to The Daily Show to explain why it took 23 years to make the upcoming film Red Tails about the Tuskegee Airmen. According to Lucas, only one thing stood in the way of the historical action flick reaching movie screens: money.

Lucas spoke candidly about the difficulty of getting a film with an all-black cast to garner the backing of major studios and even larger budgets. Apparently studios don’t think films with black casts are commercially viable here or abroad, and therefore don’t invest big bucks in making them.

Today, Tyler Perry took to his website to talk about his own difficulty making films despite posting respectable box office numbers.Perry ratcheted up the rhetoric a bit more and argued that films with black casts are “on the verge of becoming extinct.”

Why? Well, read Perry’s letter to find out.

Unfortunately, movies starring an all African American cast are on the verge of becoming extinct. THAT’S RIGHT, EXTINCT! 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. Secondly they’ll say, most movies are now dependent on foreign sales to be successful and most “black” movies don’t sell 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.

I must tell you that I have been very fortunate to work with a studio that sees the value in my type of storytelling and filmmaking. As well as having you, an audience of all races of people, who have stood by me arm and arm. It has helped me navigate through some pretty rough waters.

I thought that as black people in Hollywood, this is just our reality, but I quickly realized that this is not racism. What made me realize this is I had a conversation with Mr. Star Wars himself, George Lucas, and he was telling me that he was having the same problem with Red Tails. I was blown away! Red Tails is an important story about, not just black history, but American history about the Tuskegee Airmen. It has an all-star African American cast, including Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard, which opens this Friday. He went on to say that he brought the movie idea of Red Tails to 

several studios and no one wanted to make this film…. AND THIS IS GEORGE LUCAS! Not to be deterred, he put up his own money, shot the movie then took it back to those same studios, and they wanted nothing to do with it. One of them even refused to see the film, citing the above mentioned problems. So George decided to take a huge risk by entirely funding the movie and releasing it himself. 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. The Tuskegee Airmen, who were at the screening, were so happy that somebody is telling a small part of their story.

It opens this Friday. 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.

George, I just want to say, thank you for having the courage to do this.

What do you think of Tyler Perry’s Letter on the state of Black films? 

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  • aj1236

    You won’t go support a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen but you will run, jump and hop to see a movie about black maids? I am so confused.

    • May

      See, that’s where you’re wrong.

      I didn’t go and see The Help, I would never pay to see that movie, in fact, I could have seen it for free but I opted out because I don’t want that negativity in my life.
      A film about black maids in 2011-2012 is disgusting and I would never support those films.

    • ruggie

      @aj1236 — you’re kidding right? As much as people found that movie cringe worthy and outdated, and you honestly think the majority of black women jumped to see it?

  • ripuree

    “I thought that as black people in Hollywood, this is just our reality, but I quickly realized that this is not racism. What made me realize this is I had a conversation with Mr. Star Wars himself, George Lucas, and he was telling me that he was having the same problem with Red Tails. I was blown away! Red Tails is an important story about, not just black history, but American history about the Tuskegee Airmen. It has an all-star African-American cast, including Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard, which opens this Friday”.

    I think Mr. Perry is wrong about the fact that it is not racism, and that’s the sad part about how well instituted in our collective psychic racism is. So that even the victims often end up endorsing it without the least clue. As stated in “Black Labor White Wealth” the Law of Exclusion and the Law of Meritorious Manumission were amongst the many laws and codes that white people designed to define, redefine, refine, implement and institutionalize the permanent enslavement of black people even after Emancipation came about. (My paraphrasing).

    The Law of Exclusion said that no white person was to help a black person to benefit from what racist considered “white society”. And the punishment for those whites who refused to corrupt their minds with such evil was just as severe, as for those who sheltered a run-away slave.
    So Mr. Perry is wrong if he believes that the application of White-Supremacy-Racism, (and all of its tentacles established to keep blacks in a certain socioeconomic place) is simply about “undeniable denials to blacks from whites”. The Law of exclusion ensured that the average white person was programmed to enforce and maintain it, without the slightest clue, year after year.

    To disprove my point Mr. Perry simply needs to go to Hollywood with the idea of re-working the Tuskegee Airmen story to show that for every insult that those men endured, they were welcomed by at least 2 more whites, whose kindness enabled them to do what they did. He needs to make benevolent whites the stars in the Tuskegee Airmen’ lives. He needs to show that more whites will benefit, directly and indirectly financially and to their egos, and then he’ll never again be fooled as to how pernicious White Supremacy-Racism is, in this Post Racial age.

    White Supremacy-Racism is also for the business of mis-educating black people about ourselves. Thus our children will continue to kill themselves, from lack of any worthwhile knowledge about their past. To that end, black African’s contribution to the civilization of humanity, has still not entered conventional textbooks, though most now know that that simply is not true. And because the truth is so hard to find, it means that the role models for our kids to emulate, (whose focus were most likely geared to gain wealth) often never learned the truth about their race themselves, therefore are teaching our kids (by actions) how to practice the law of Meritorious Manumissions without the slightest clue.

    With that Law/Code, blacks could be rewarded by whites for working against the best interest of blacks overall. Thus one could gain his freedom if he revealed knowledge of a plot of insurrection to his master. He, and maybe his family then get their freedom, but fails to see that the system of slavery did not remove the automatic refusal of society to see black skinned people (free or un-free) as equal human. Consequently, his freedom was often even more treacherous than when he was a property on the Plantation where the White man could vouch for him, if he were caught by slave catchers, who could get a good price for turning him in. If a black person was able to use his voice eloquently, he could then be used to deny the plight of himself and his people. One could also invent something to benefit white society. And on and on, with all kinds of ways that should only benefit whites. Consequently today that silent, unwritten, unspoken instruction gets transmitted, especially to those amongst us who’ve done the best financially. Most don’t have the slightest clue, how their views are gradually changing to be PR persons for covert racism, so that their wealth ends up doing just what Meritorious Manumissions intend.

  • Jen

    I would rather go see a George Lucas movie, honestly.


    • Prina

      We do not have to see Redtails to explore our history! Open a book! There’s several documentaries that depict the Tuskegee Airmen story and plenty of books written. Its the same crap you guys said about Malcolm X. Do you know how many fools would argue with me about Malcolm X and had never read a speech he wrote, nor read any books written by him or about him just saw Spike’s movie and believe it was gospel truth? Same goes for the Dorthy Dandridge story, try reading Donald Bogle’s book the story was based upon.

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