The movie Red Tails is a true historical drama about the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of brave black fighter pilots in 1944 who had to deal with war and segregation. There was also a HBO movie Tuskegee Air Man in 1995. My question is, how do you advertise such a film to the public? Sad to say, it is a hard sell. It is not a blockbuster bit of cinema, but George (Star Wars) Lucas is producing it. It has great action sequences –some say fantastic.
It is set for release in January 2012, the dumping ground for movies. The trouble is no big name black star is in the film so how to sell it, so let's brainstorm. First, it is not a Tyler Perry movie or a black romantic comedy. Now what? How will that make it go over in Leicester Square cinema, or elsewhere? Well, it has Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr., and in it he's finally acting – which he hasn’t done in years. The movie also has Terrence Howard, from Hustle and Flow and Iron Man, and you know he can act.
It is male oriented, so there will be action in it. It's great to show young black men in a good light. Should they use rap in their commercials? Or a catchy dance tune? The director is Anthony Hemingway, who has done a lot of TV shows –Fringe, CSI, ER and The Closer. This is his film debut. On the cover of Ebony for February 2012 they will feature the main actors. As another marketing manuever, they could go the patriotic route, with the song Star Spangled Banner sung by Whitney Houston, or a soulful rendition of God Bless America as they show the battle sequences. A promo could fade out to say: Courage Has No Color.
The trailers must show the men being very heroic, because doggone it, black men can be heroic. I hope the movie makes money or at least break even, but I strongly doubt it. It is the old story of prestige versus popcorn movies, and usually the popcorn film wins. I do hope I am wrong, very wrong this time. Black people go to the movies more than whites, and we should demand better movies. If we don’t go, we'll have the usual urban comedies, no dramas, more maids, more gangster movies, "white folks can only raise black children" white saviors in films, when the fact is we can save ourselves. Hollywood can do better if we make them for remember the bottom line is money, so satisfy the black audience.