ABOVE PHOTO: Forrest Whitaker in scene from The Butler.
By Tambay A. Obenson
The Weinstein Company holds the fate of three black films this year – The Butler, Fruitvale and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.
A release date for Mandela has already been set for November 29.
And while Fruitvale was original set to debut on October 18, The Weinstein Company has moved up that release date by about three months, to July 26 – this, according to Box Office Mojo.
No word yet on the reason for the move, although it’s a very curious one considering how much of a move it is – from a fall release date to a near-late summer date. Does it mean that they no longer consider it an awards season contender?
What’s even more interesting is that, in its former October 18 slot, they’ve now given that date to The Butler. So does this suggest that they’ve seen a new cut of The Butler and believe in its awards season potential, over Fruitvale?
Again, no reasons given, so all we an do is speculate at this point.
On July 27, Fruitvale will be going up against Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine. Obviously we know what film will win that weekend, but maybe the drama in Fruitvale will provide some counter-programming to that superhero action/adventure film – although Fruitvale will almost surely see a limited release – at least, early on.
Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight has set a release date for Black Nativity for November 27 – Thanksgiving Weekend – in a wide release. But what’s most interesting about that date placement is that The Weinstein Company is also releasing Idris Elba’s Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom that weekend, November 29. So, Black Nativity and Mandela will be fighting it out that weekend, although I’m guessing that Mandela will be released in a limited number of theaters, at least initially.
Still an interesting week for black cinema, and I’m now wondering if Weinstein will move Mandela to another date so it’s not competing with Black Nativity that weekend.
Let’s wait and see if there are anymore movements… it’s going to be a bit of a crowded fall for black cinema; keep in mind that the sequel to The Best Man (The Best Man Holiday), will be released on November 15, 2 weeks before Black Nativity and Mandela.
Tyler Perry also has a dog in the fall fight, with Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas out on December 13.
David E. Talbert’s Baggage Claim will be out on October 25.
We also don’t yet know when those black films that were picked up at Sundance (other than Fruitvale), will be released – a few of them (like Blue Caprice) attracting lots of awards season buzz, and may also find themselves premiering in the fall months.
Mother Of George, and The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister & Pete are two others. The former was picked up by Indomina; the latter has yet to be picked up.
And there are/will be others. It’s still early in the year, with a few more key early film festivals either happening right now, or will be in the next 2 to 3 months.