Could Hollywood be racist?
Acclaimed Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas's upcoming movie Red Tails stars an all-African-American cast, including leads Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Terrence Howard and even an African-American director in Anthony Hemingway. Lucas is on board as the movie's executive producer and writer.
Red Tails tells the story of the Tuskegee Airman of Alabama, who were a group of black pilots that fought in World War II at a time when the U.S. military was still segregated. And, according to Lucas who spoke with USA Today, the budget for the film was $58 million, above the normal budgets for all-black movies.
It's not surprising with the power George Lucas has that he was able to receive the budget he wanted. However, what does seem astonishing is the fact that Hollywood may have given him a hard time getting to that number just because of the racial makeup of the cast, which sparks questions of Hollywood racism.
This has been held up for release since 1942 since it was shot, I've been trying to get released ever since, said Lucas half-jokingly to Jon Stewart on the Daily Show on Monday night. It's because it's an all-black movie. There's no major white roles in it at all. I showed it to all of them and they said, 'No. We don't know how to market a movie like this.'
In his interview with USA Today, Lucas says Red Tails actually took 23 years to make. It will be released on Jan. 20, 2012. Lucas' dream will be coming true, but he also realizes that while the movie starring an all-black cast with a black director will have its racial undertones and send strong racial messages, it may still result in negative consequences for black filmmakers going forward.
I realize that by accident I've now put the black film community at risk, Lucas said. I'm saying, if this doesn't work, there's a good chance you'll stay where you are for quite a while. It'll be harder for you guys to break out of that (lower-budget) mold. But if I can break through with this movie, then hopefully there will be someone else out there saying let's make a prequel and sequel, and soon you have more Tyler Perrys out there.
Check out the trailer for Red Tails and Lucas's interview with Stewart below: