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Box office points to a good year for black filmmakers

Actor Tyler Perry attends the Premiere Of Summit Entertainment's 'Alex Cross' at the ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome.

There’s no doubt 2013 has been a good year for black directors and their films that feature a predominately black cast.

Wesley Morris, film critic at Grantland, says it's true, but it’s not the first time Hollywood has celebrated a year with strong offerings from minorities, only to see that success fade the following year.

This time though, says Morris, is different from previous years.  

"The difference is, you have more black producers and directors who have enough clout now to get these movies made more or less on their own terms," Morris says. And aiding in their success is that "there are more people at the studio level able to support this more ambitious film making."

Many of the films that opened this year like Lee Daniels's "The Butler" and "12 Years A Slave" appealed to audiences of different races. "In the case of these movies, the goal is to have it be equally as color-blind [as movies like Thor]," says Morris.

And that could be one of the reasons "The Best Man Holiday" did so well its opening weekend, bringing in over $33 million at the box office. "$30 million dollars is a bona-fide hit opening weekend," says Morris, "and it also says to the studios that there’s an audience out there for this sort of movie at this level."

And that could bring success for black filmmakers next year too, according to Morris. "The money can’t be discounted because it suggests that there’s an audience that demands that these things be seen."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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