One day away from its August 10th release, “The Help” is already getting serious Oscar buzz and some less than expected support.
The movie, based on 2009 bestseller by Kathryn Stockett, addresses the relationship between African-American housekeepers and their southern White employers on the eve of the Civil Rights movement. And while the novel raised a great deal of controversy, Roslyn Brock, chairwoman of the NAACP has become one of the movie’s biggest advocates.
Brock spoke of her support for the film, which stars Viola Davis, Octavia Spenser and Emma Stone, last week during the Los Angeles of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s annual meeting. After seeing the film, she is urging black audiences to head to theatres when it is released. Admitting she was initially skeptical, Brock told the audience:
“I didn’t have any great expectations for a movie based in the ’60s about domestics…I thought it would be a heavy, dark movie that would bring to mind segregation. After seeing the film, though, I felt so proud. My grandmother was a domestic in Florida, and when she passed, almost two generations of families whom she had taken care of sent condolences saying what an important part she was to their family. And it never really connected with me until I saw this movie….I ask each of you: Tell your friends, your family, your co-workers, your church. Organize screening parties. Go see this movie.”
Nicole Sperling of The Los Angeles Times reports:
Marketing executives at Disney Studios, the company distributing the DreamWorks’ production, held advance screenings for more than 250 audiences across the country, including book clubs, churches, temples and libraries. They have also reached out to African American leaders such as Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre, national president of the Delta Sigma Theta Inc. sorority; and Kuae Mattox, president of Mocha Moms Inc., a group of some 3,000 highly educated black women who have left the workforce to raise children.
The Help is hoping to follow off the success of Stockett’s book, with five day estimates holding between $25 million and $30 million. In many ways, the movie is a marketing challenge for the ages: take a subject matter that makes many Blacks and Whites uncomfortable and get them both to sit through two hours of viewing time. As such, there has been heavy promotion of the film both in mainstream media and targeted African-American markets.
Whether you love the book, hate the storyline or can’t wait to see the film, one thing is sure, there is a great deal of anticipation around “The Help.”
Are you planning to go see “The Help”? Let us know Clutchettes and gents- weigh in!