by Nick Zurko
Following a year that saw a surge in Black films obtaining both commercial and critical success, culminating in the recent Best Picture Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, 2014 has gotten off to a positive start for African-American filmmakers, with audiences turning out for such hits as Ride Along and About Last Night. However, this is hardly the first time that mainstream audiences have been exposed to a broad spectrum of Black voices on screen, only for Hollywood myths, such as Black films do not perform well in the global marketplace to retain their hold over Hollywood executives. Those executives in turn shy away from promoting diversity in the films they finance and market.
In order to place Black film’s “breakthrough” year in a greater historical and statistical context, the New York Film Academy compiled an infographic looking at the accomplishments and hurdles that Black cinema has encountered over the past century.Even in a year when the number of Black movies in the top 100 grossing films was equal to 2011 and 2012 combined, the top five grossing Black films’ combined box office gross was still less than the box office take for the number one grossing film, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Yet, when one takes into account the significantly smaller budgets and number of screens these films played on, they still banked a similar Return On Investment (ROI) at the global box office as their big-budget counterpart. In looking at the bigger picture, this infographic highlights how Black filmmakers and actors have made considerable inroads into a biased studio system while looking at the influential and emerging auteurs of Black film that are shaking up studio stereotypes.