Why ‘Detroit’ Flopping At The Box Office, Signals A Dent In Hollywood’s Appetite For Black Movies of Shame
The numbers are in and unfortunately despite best laid plans and the projection for a more than decent opening at the box office — Kathryn Bigelow’s much-hyped and picked apart movie about the Detroit riots of 1967 — aptly titled Detroit — barely registered with theater goers across the country.
An outing this disappointing must be a painful blow for Bigelow, who’s known for such controversial fare like The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Those films were lauded for their heightened themes — ripped from real life scenarios — and staged for dramatics.
While promoting her latest, Bigelow opened up to Variety — and shared the challenges that come with being considered “the most famous filmmaker in the world” — who happens to have the power to do whatever her heart desires. Bigelow, suffered a fair amount of trepidation when confronted with the possibly of helming a racially-charged vehicle.
She questioned whether or not she was the right kind of White person to “present” the “harrowing” tale of police brutality against Blacks.
“I thought, ‘Am I the perfect person to tell this story? No.” “However, I’m able to tell this story, and it’s been 50 years since it’s been told.”
Yes, the timing for a film that flawlessly exalts the slogan — “Summer of Hate” has been dutifully waiting for the right moment to make its debut. The racial climate that we always label as “charged” or “tumultous” has always been this way — except now — we all have front row seats and pixels that are programmed to numb the senses.
Hollywood’s elite is always on standby to conspire and rearrange the rules to help fuel the avenues of exploitation — that are shielded under the responsibility to feed the masses more of what they already have in dangerous abundance.
Towards the end of her gripping testimony, the filmmaker basically unveiled the real reason why consistent funding for every imaginable frame of Black people screaming in agony — is currently in high demand.
‘With the events unfolding today, the story needed to see the light of day.” “My hope is that a dialogue comes out of this film that can begin to humanize a situation that often feels very abstract.”
interesting how this sudden interest in Black stories revolves around the social network built from units of awareness — that were sprung in response to the acute negligence of those tasked with law and order — that has resulted in the senseless killing of innocent Black victims.
President Trump’s neurotic administration has only given the #BlackLivesMatter movement more to contend with — as White supremacists grow more and more comfortable implementing their ethos of hate without consequences.
Bigelow was drawn to the convenience of being able to produce the most affecting masterpiece about a real life event that vividly showcases the rubble of Black America — and she was so sure of her winning hand that she invited a frequent collaborator — a young heiress — to the circle of life by offering another chance to produce a movie — saturated with the prestige.
Megan Ellison, is a young White woman in her early thirties — with a shitload of money — and no time limit to figure out the best way to spend it. Her father is the billionaire chairman of Oracle Corporation, so she was in great shape to form Annapurna Pictures back in 2011. The strategic move gave authority to attach her name to hits like American Hustle and Bigelow’s critical darling — Zero Dark Thirty.
Ellison was inspired to take the leap as a truly independent producer — without the burden of meddlesome studio heads stealing some of the thunder. When you consider the themes of Detroit — and how the distressing transaction of “Black pain” continues to yield substantial returns — It’s hard to conceive anyone with enough money to buy God — purposely bypassing the potential for millions and thousands more.
The behind-the-scenes foreplay can actually prove more riveting than the finished product.
You would never imagine that a thirty-one-year-old White woman, with millions to spare and access to industry hitmakers — would align herself with a film that evokes the vulnerability of those that have been forced into a cycle of cruelty — with legal standing.
No doubt — Ellison’s determination to help Bigelow’s quest to artistically illustrate another graphic depiction of the trials and tribulations of Black America — also came from a place of empathetic adherence.
I opted not to see the film as an act of civic defiance against the current regime — that has devised a purposed plan to blatantly capitalize on the dire misfortunes of a mired population — that still can’t escape the complexities of their existence.
In an age when it’s perfectly acceptable for two non-Black men to announce their plans to give White supremacists another reason to gloat — by delivering a highly-anticipated series — that creates a make-believe world where slavery is still a thriving institution — it’s rather incredible that African-Americans have to painstakingly explain how and why a show titled Confederate — doesn’t garner any measure of appeal or noble restraint on our part.
And that’s probably why Detroit didn’t resonate on a level that keeps hope alive for those who have nothing to lose — either way. Most critics rated the film with cautious reverence to the subject matter — while others expressed their distaste for a film that didn’t hold back on the horrific stuff — and yet somehow lacked the depth of storytelling in the face of factual events.
There are many reasons why Detroit underwhelmed — and something has to be said for picking the most random part of summer for such an honorable release.
But the most justifiable diagnosis can be awarded to the stimulated lethargy — emanating from a society that has been besieged with violent content — that does very little to downplay the plight of Black children in America — who have the option of either witnessing the virulent death of a relative or actually perishing in a similarly gruesome manner.
The packaged evidence overruns timelines and gives traffic the boost of clicks and shares. No matter how bloody and torn the victims appear to be — empathy has evolved into a fascination for the ritual deaths of targeted citizens.
Modernized slavery is nothing to be entertained by — neither is the greed from thirsty investors who want to finance variations of a “movement” — that will surely yield the returns of being “Woke” — just when the markets need it the most.
Questionable projects are being unleashed with marked urgency, which only confirms how Hollywood’s insatiable appetite for Black movies of shame — can be curbed by the forced realization that demand may no longer match supply.
The elite will eventually have to feast on another trend with deadly consequences to the participants, but killer box office instincts that’s worth the bait.
For now — Detroit serves as the reminder that you can only push so far before the facade buckles — and the untruths perjuring loftier goals — become clearer with each pitch and post-production fanfare.
In White America, when the lights slowly overtake and the credits roll — its back to life as usual without the nagging reality of a harassed template. For Black America it’s another unappetizing trip down memory lane or the threat of impending doom.
It is possible to overuse your quota when it relates to how much injustice you can internalize without a deep aversion to the ceremonious homage to a practice — that has silenced so many and continues its goal of forced eradication.
Perhaps the obvious lack of enthusiasm for Detroit is a step in the right direction, that leads to a detour from the trendiness of how the burden of being Black in America needs to be viewed in as many outlets as possible — in order to fuck up our tolerance — even more.
The people have spoken and, like we all know, when numbers are involved — all bets are off. The hunter becomes the hunted. Lets hope it stays that way.