Film critics seemed to be shocked—again—that Sony Pictures’ ensemble comedy Think Like A Man (TLAM) topped the box office yet again this past weekend, bringing its two-week total to $60.9 million.
TLAM, which out performed industry projections, beat out expected winner The Five-Year Engagement; stop animation kid’s flick The Pirates! Band of Misfits; Zac Efron’s The Lucky One; and former front-runner the Hunger Games, to nab the top spot for a second week in a row.
Lately we’ve been talking about the dearth of black characters on TV and in movies, and it seems like that could be related to the secret to TLAM’s success. The movie has a predominantly black cast (there are two white guys in the crew of friends), and the characters are, for the most part, positive, normal (though very attractive, shoutout to my new boyfriend Michael Ealy) representations of black people. In the TLAM universe, black people are not the one homeless guy on the street or the token sassy neighbor. They’ve got jobs, a little drama, a sense of humor, the desire to be in love. If we’re in a representational desert when it comes to people of color,TLAM is an oasis. In addition, the movie is not about being black. No preachy speeches or mind-numbing discussions about race. It’s a silly, fun bit of entertainment, a date movie, a movie a bunch of ladies can see together. It’s about relationships, about the stupid things men do, the struggles women face in while dating. A subject with broad appeal (no pun intended), told with an ensemble cast so that there’s something for everyone to relate to. Movie experts should not be surprised that audiences are into it, are giving it great word of mouth and that some folks are tweeting that they want to see it again.
Many have been wondering if TLAM’s success will finally, finally crack open the door for more black films (without Tyler Perry’s name attached) to get the green-light in Hollywood. While I certainly hope that’s the case, I won’t be holding my breath and waiting for the next black romantic comedy to drop.
Unlike the good ol’ days of the 90s and early 2000s when films like The Wood, Love & Basketball, The Best Man, and Love Jones were more common, these days studios seem to be only concerned about their bottom-line. Even Sony, Think Like A Man’s studio, doesn’t have another original black film coming up this year, so audiences will have to be patient.
Thankfully, filmmakers are not waiting. Through independent distribution collectives like Ava DuVernay’s AFFRM, to filmmakers releasing their projects straight to iTunes and TV, black filmmakers are no longer waiting for Hollywood to sit up and take notice.