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Breaking Barriers: Celebrating Black Wins in Film



Background divided into thirds, each a different color: red, yellow and green. A white block with black text and three cutout images: one black woman holding a golden globe statue, one black man in a white suite carrying a briefcase, and an upside image of an animated black male teenager.

As we kick off Black History Month, it's important to reflect on the incredible achievements and contributions of Black artists in the film industry. The past year has been filled with groundbreaking films that showcased the immense talent of Black actors, directors, and crew members. From box office hits to critically acclaimed indie films, Black creatives have made their mark and shattered records. It's time to celebrate their triumphs and recognize the lasting impact they have on cinema. But let's not limit our appreciation to just one month. We should give these Black artists their flowers year-round, embracing their stories and diverse perspectives that enrich the world of film.


🎥 BLACK FILMS 🎥


We loved so many movies this year! Here are some films featuring Black actors, directors, and crew that killed it at the box office!


Good Morning America


The Little Mermaid - Featuring Halle Bailey in the titular role, initiated a TikTok trend of families filming their children excited that this iconic Disney princess looked like them! The representation in this movie shot Halle to superstardom and earned the movie over $500M globally! And, the movie broke the Disney+ streaming premiere record by garnering over 16 million views in its first five days on the platform.


Movie poster with black male teenager upside down with black shirt with a red spider printed on the center. The background shows many other people, some masked, some not, but all with spider themed apparel.

Sony Pictures Animation


Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse - Premiering to a $120M domestic opening weekend, this film took Miles Morales on a journey through his empowerment & what it means to be a hero. It also smashed Sony Animation records and now holds the titles of highest-grossing debut and highest grossing Sony Pictures Animation movie. We can’t wait to see if Miles Morales can stop his own canon event!


Warner Bros. Pictures


The Color Purple - Produced by the likes of Oprah and Quincy Jones, this new adaptation of the Broadway musical was a hit at cinemas. Beating out Aquaman and Wonka, the musical opened on Christmas Day to $18M, earning the second-largest Christmas Day debut opening ever!


Image of a movie poster of seven people, a group of black males and females standing side by side holding various items: bat, candelstick, axe, etc. Low lying fog on the near the groud they stand on. Large white text above their heads and red text below their feet.

Lionsgate


The Blackening - Dwayne Perkins wrote & starred in this new horror-comedy. Premiering on Juneteenth, it resonated with audiences with its smart and hilarious takes on Black people dying first in horror movies. It flipped the script by asking who dies first when everyone is Black.


A bald black man with goatee wearing glasses and a denim shirt, smiling in what appears to be an office. Yellow and pink text covers the lower half of the image.

MGM Studios


American Fiction - Gaining popularity through word of mouth, this indie film has taken the country by storm. With FIVE Oscar nominations, this satire about Black trauma and the literary world should be on everybody’s radar!


A black woman with loose braids, seated, dressed in an gray, yellow, black and red argyle sweater. A starry galaxy like background in blue and red. 3D text in white, yellow and red is to the left of the woman,

Disney Movies


The Marvels - The first Marvel movie directed by a Black woman, Nia Dacosta, featured a continuation of the MCU by focusing on this diverse slate of female superheroes. At $46M for its opening weekend, The Marvels marked the largest opening weekend by a Black woman director EVER!


A black woman standing on a red carpet, waving with a braided updown in a off the shoulder yellow gown, diamond earrings and a necklace.

Federico Cespignani/Anadolu Agency


Origin - Ava Duvernay’s newest film, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2023. The first Black woman directed film to compete at the festival, it received a 9-minute standing ovation.


A muscular black man seated shirtless in the corner of a boxing ring with white ropes and a black background.

MGM

Creed III - KO’ed its predecessors by earning over $100M globally its opening weekend. This milestone makes it the biggest opening for a Black director’s debut –congrats Michael B. Jordan!--and, the highest opening weekend for any sports movie EVER!


A blacked couple seated alone in a cinema, they are looking at one another smiling. The black male has dreadlocks, wearing a white shirt and blazer and black pants with his hands in a popcorn bucket. The woman has long blonde hair, wearing a metallic silver floor length strapless gown, holding a black popcorn bucket and soda cup.

@beyonce via Instagram


🪩 BEYONCÉ 🪩


The Queen slayed throughout 2023 with her worldwide Renaissance Tour and her concert film, Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé. She continued to cement her throne with her Renaissance tour film earning a whopping $21M its opening weekend. This marks the first time since 2003 any film earned over $20M the first weekend in December. But the Queen must be used to breaking records at this point!




🏆AWARDS AWARDS AWARDS 🏆


We’re deep into award season and we have to recognize all the amazing talent that earned accolades on accolades for their performances.


Eddie Murphy Awarded the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for his five decade career in entertainment. With a new holiday film, Candy Cane Lane, dropping on Prime Video and the highly anticipated Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F this year, Murphy shows no signs of slowing!



A black woman standing and holding up a golden globe award statue. She has shoulder length brown hair, a metallic silver strapless gown, diamond earring, bracelet and rings, and and red lipstick.

Trae Patton/NBC


Everyone was ecstatic for the second Black Panther movie, Wakanda Forever. The sad passing of Chadwick Boseman led fans to question where the new film would land and who would helm the franchise…cue Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett. These powerhouses continued the legacy of empowered women in the Black Panther franchise and Angela Bassett won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a supporting role in a motion picture for her portrayal of Queen Ramonda. The first ever Golden Globe for a Marvel film.



Entertainment Weekly | Noel West for the New York Times | Marvel


We’d be remiss to not mention Ruth E. Carter, the costume designer and brain behind the Afrofuturist costumes in Black Panther and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. In collaboration with production designer Hannah Beachler, they created a story through color, studying a myriad of African tribes, and teaming with local African artists. 


Carter & Beachler each won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design respectively in 2018. They both became the first Black women to win in either category and distinguished Black Panther as the first Marvel movie to win an Academy Award. Carter has gone on to win the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, making her the first Black woman to win two Academy Awards and the first person to win for both the original and sequel of a film!


From left to right: Da’Vine Joy Randolph - The Holdovers (Focus Features), , Sterling K. Brown - American Fiction (Claire Folger/MGM/Orion Releasing), Colman Domingo - Rustin (Parrish Lewis/Netflix), Danielle Brooks - The Color Purple (Warner Bros), Jeffrey Wright - American Fiction (Claire Folger/MGM/Orion Releasing)



As award season continues and the anticipation builds for the 2024 Academy Awards, let’s take a moment to honor the talented Black actors who have been nominated and recognized for their outstanding performances. From Fanielle Brooks in “The Color Purple” to Sterling K. Brown in “American Fiction,” these individuals have captivated audiences with their brilliance and brought these complex & beloved characters to life on the big screen.


Our celebration shouldn’t end with award ceremonies or the month of Feb. Continue to show support by catching these films in cinemas or streaming, amplifying Black voices, and seeking out stories that represent the diversity of human experiences. Make a commitment to celebrate and uplift Black artists year-round, ensuring their rightful place in the spotlight and fostering a more inclusive and vibrant film industry for everyone to enjoy.



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Sources:

The Root - 1, 2, 3


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