Black Actress Update: Hollywood’s Shrinking Box Office

I know if I made money the way Hollywood did, I’d be ecstatic. Especially when you have the most creative accountants in the world who can turn billions earned into “losses”. All legally, of course. That’s what you get for having the US Congress in your back pocket. I expect when their earnings decline even more, they will be asking for public funds to keep the business afloat (See General Motors). That will occur right after they make it illegal for anyone to say or watch anything on the Internet (pending legislative as of now).

But I digress, imagine being able to push garbage at people and compel them to head to a filthy, loud and uncomfortable theater just to sit through crappy schlock for nearly three hours? That clearly takes genius to run this con year after year, week after week and day after day. If they think they are losing money now, wait until everyone can download a film in the blink of an eye and re-create a movie theater at home without the nuisance, annoyance and hassle of a public one.

Nothing To See Here, Move Along

The box office take for Hollywood has been weak: headlines blurb about the lower attendance rates. A money quote from the BBC article:

“It’s unbelievable how bad it is,” said analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

Are we supposed to weep for them? I thought this would be a bonanza year, since they have defenders, who say that films with too many black people – men and women, not just the guys – wont make money. This was the year of the whitest films around.

I’m usually a movie fiend, but this has been the year where I missed many of the “blockbuster films”, except for X Men: The Lamest Generation and Mission Impossible: Making Tom Cruise Hot Again. There may have been another, but I often forget a film the minute I leave the theater.

Come Back, Again, Ya Hear!?!

This was the year of sequels, remakes, prequels, comic books and animation. Proof of Hollywood’s emptiness.

The top 20 films of 2011, according to Box Office Mojo. I have a page that shows the same content of all the Top 100 films.

1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 $381.00 WB
2 Transformers: Dark of the Moon $352.00 P/DW
3 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 $272.00 Sum.
4 The Hangover Part II $254.00 WB
5 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $241.00 BV
6 Fast Five $209.00 Uni.
7 Cars 2 $191.00 BV
8 Thor $181.00 Par.
9 Rise of the Planet of the Apes $176.00 Fox
10 Captain America: The First Avenger $176.00 Par.
11 The Help $169.00 BV
12 Bridesmaids $169.00 Uni.
13 Kung Fu Panda 2 $165.00 P/DW
14 X-Men: First Class $146.00 Fox
15 Puss in Boots $143.00 P/DW
16 Rio $143.00 Fox
17 The Smurfs $142.00 Sony
18 Super 8 $127.00 Par.
19 Rango $123.00 Par.
20 Horrible Bosses $117.00 WB (NL)


The fresh entries: The Help, Bridesmaids, Super 8, Horrible Bosses, Rio and Rango. So, out of the top 20, roughly 6 of them were “original”, fresh-out-of-the-box material. Heh.

The Non-Mystery of the Twilight Lure

Honestly, doesn’t Breaking Dawn sound like a porn title, or is that just me? 😀

Breaking Dawn In

The funniest thing I’ve read were reports of women having “seizures” at this latest Twilight film, and no one knew what it was. It’s called an orgasm, people. Sheesh. It’s the 21st century and female biology is still a mystery. Um, women like Twilight and Vampire flicks, because of the eroticism. The yearning, withholding and anticipating. He’s a bad boy, and an eternally powerful man who bites and licks the neck, targeting one of the erogenous zones of the female body.

Yeah, “seizures.” Okay.

The Black Actress: Inclusion or Exclusion?

Forgive me for not listing all shows, or movies with a black actress. If you find some with a black actress of interest, please add it to the comments section. Let’s look at the top films of the year and see if that hypothesis is true, you know: less black women (or nice black male actors) equals more money per film.

When I glance at cast credits, I look at the first 5 to 10. They get the most speaking roles, so even if a black actress gets one line and is part of the scenery – to me – that doesn’t count.

Films that include black women in starring roles also (animation doesn’t count):

1. The Help – love it or hate it, we got a film about being maids, in 2011. Thank you, Hollywood. Thanks so much. All we black women can do is still be maids in the 21st century. A black woman is First Lady, but these people have us doing roles cleaning some white woman’s toilet with dignity! whilst pretending that’s got something to do with civil rights. Alrighty, then.

2. Bridesmaids – big hit – from the people that brought us Hangover. Not sure how much of a role she played, but Kali Hawk (love the name) is in it.

Update: Somehow I missed Maya Rudolph, and she’s one of the stars!

Thank you for the tip, Vonnie!

3. X-Men – Does not have a black actress with two black parents, but a half-half of two half-half was in it. So, I flipped a coin and decided to include Zoë Kravitz.

 Here’s the bottom 20 movies of 2011 for comparison:

80 In Time $36.00 Fox
81 Colombiana $36.00 TriS
82 Sucker Punch $36.00 WB
83 J. Edgar $36.00 WB
84 Larry Crowne $35.00 Uni.
85 The Descendants $35.00 FoxS
86 50/50 $35.00 Sum.
87 Drive (2011) $34.00 FD
88 A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas $34.00 WB (NL)
89 Courageous $33.00 TriS
90 The Rite $33.00 WB (NL)
91 Arthur (2011) $33.00 WB
92 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) $32.00 Sony
93 The Adventures of Tintin $31.00 Par.
94 The Debt $31.00 Focus
95 Priest $29.00 SGem
96 The Mechanic $29.00 CBS
97 Abduction $28.00 LGF
98 Beastly $27.00 CBS
99 Winnie the Pooh $26.00 BV
100 Killer Elite $25.00 ORF


Anything Else We Need to Know?

An action film with a black actress is a miss, but the black actress as a maid might be up for an Oscar? Oh well.

1. Columbiana – Zoe Saldana. Perhaps she should stick to romances or something. Seriously, no one is going to believe that a 55 pound woman – soaking wet – can kick anybody’s ass.

2. Drive – Tiara Parker – don’t know if she has much of a role.

3. Larry Crowne – Tarina Pouncy – don’t know if she has much of a role.

4. Courageous – Eleanor Brown – don’t know if she has much of a role.

Notice that a lot of the big stars made spectacular flops this year? People are tired of them too.

Some of the bottom films are likely new releases, so those numbers will change for next year.

And that’s all folks….

Happy New Year. 😀


33 thoughts on “Black Actress Update: Hollywood’s Shrinking Box Office”

  1. @ Vonnie –

    Good point about Maya Rudolph – she was the main character’s best friend! Can’t believe I failed to mention her! I wish she had a bigger role in the film. Actually, I wish that movie had focused more on the friendships than the self-loathing, pity-partying of Annie.

    @sisterlocgirl –

    You can find the Ebony comments I’m referring to here. I think where she really lost me was equating having a black President with complaining about how hard it is for black women in Hollywood. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other.

    Her later comments, which I perceived to be backtracking somewhat, here.

    GoldenAh: I read the articles. I think I was more amused by it than anything. She says she sorta grew up in Queens and that made her “tough”. LOL. I’m not gonna knock a chick from Queens, but that place was a semi-suburban bougie haven compared to some areas of the Brooklyn / Bronx and Harlem. And she was dancer / ballerina; they don’t have time for all that street nonsense. That tough talking routine from her wasn’t necessary. It just came across as comical. Reminded me of middle class rappers who wanted to pretend they grew up in the projects when in fact their parents had a nice little house in the ‘burbs and worked at decent steady jobs.

    I agree with you though: I don’t see the connection between having a black President and finding work as a black actress. Lost me there too.

  2. I was forced to see Transformers by my brother in law and long suffering sister lol. I admit to seeing Twilight voluntarily lol. I enjoyed Super 8, Harry Potter, and Bridesmaids. This list represents my entire film experience for the year 2011. I don’t see much changing for 2012. It is somewhat clear that Hollywood has suffered a flight of creativity, maybe it’s time to outsource the writing staff.
    On another note, I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas and I purchased your book. Wow!
    I loved it. I loved the male lead and the special world you created. Is there any chance a certain warrior could get his own story?

    GoldenAh: Transformers II was so incoherent. Oh, my goodness. Criminal how bad it was. I can only imagine your suffering seeing Transformers III. 😀

    I am into Vampires and stuff. I dig it. I love Dracula by Bram Stroker. I need a cigarette after that film. And my favorite non-acting actor Keanu Reaves is in it. 😀

    I am becoming a big fan of J.J. Abrams. I haven’t seen Super 8, but I was really surprised by Cloverfield. It sorta has that Predator vs Aliens ending. Hint: the sole survivor is never who you expect. I’m almost afraid of praising the man’s work due to the actresses he almost always includes, because of the haters out there. Ya know?

    Trish, can I tell you how much that means for you to say that? I write, but I never let myself decide to either release the book or bury it. So, I have to learn to write it, release and let go, or I’ll never get it done. Thank you very much for the compliment. I’ll do my best to get it out this year.

    And I love that character too. It’s the truth when writers say the characters have their own lives, we see them, and it’s just us relaying who they are. He is who he is. 😀

    Cheers and Happy New Year, Trish. 😀

  3. It’s so depressing. It’s the same old stereotypes again and again, a kabillion years after slavery. I have to admit I don’t do crowded movie theaters either, except when Maxi Me was salivating to see Breaking Dawn, which was a about the worst movie ever. But…it was fun hanging with the kid.

    GoldenAh: I thought it was excellent and awesome when you showcased (plus defending) Issa Rae who created “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl“. I love her humor. She delivers more wit in 5-9 minutes than some of these 22 minute sitcoms.

    Nothing beats the home theater. The only pull of a release is the timeliness of it being new. Otherwise, “Meh”.

    Great to hear from you, Christelyn. Happy New Year. 😀

  4. if we are including half black women, def have to include maya rudolph in bridesmaid as she was the bride! lol

    GoldenAh: Why do I keep missing this woman? And she’s so cute too! She reminds me a lot like Raven-Symoné or they could be sisters or mother-daughter.

    I think I miss her, because whenever I see the movie poster (not upclose), I see white skin and keep it moving.

    I’ll update the post.

    Thank you for the input, Vonnie. Happy New Year. 😀

  5. I generally am drawn to action pics, but I DEFINITELY saw Columbiana. How many movies have been made with 55 pound white chicks being shown as kick-ass? Tomb Raider, The entire Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, etc, etc. I finically support films that normalize black women as opposed to the Tyler Perryesque attacks on professional black women, The Help nonsense and other negative roles. Vote with your wallet because in the end all anyone sees is green and quite a few of us have it to spare. Why did I pay money to see Columbiana? Because Zoe Saldana is a black woman who puts herself out there as a black woman period. I’m not certain what questionable comments she may have made in Ebony but I will give her some leeway. I would be interested to know what she said. Just my 2 cents.

    GoldenAh: I agree with you Sisterlocgirl, when we see a movie we are voting and displaying our power as consumers. We know Hollywood will continue to make more of the same once they find a gold vein to tap.

    I love action flicks too, but I’ll admit to my bias. I only want to see knuckle dragging half-nekked muscular hot and sweaty men fight (like 300, Gladiator) or some cool ass kicking (Bourne Identity, Bond flicks, anything with Jason Statham), not petite little women that a strong wind could blow away. I know this is fantasy, but a part of me is deeply worried that a lot of girls out there (subconsciously) believe they can take on a man twice their size or even the same size and height.

    It is much harder to drop kick or break a choke hold than people think. Real fighting is messy dragging, pulling, slapping and punching. It’s not pretty, neat, and folks miss their intended target quite often. A good fight requires vicious surprise – real life doesn’t offer that. I watch some of these “martial arts” moves these women make, and I can’t take it anymore. In a real fight, those little women would be dead in a heartbeat. I have a hard time suspending my disbelief. And when a young woman goes missing, I wonder if it’s because she’s assumed too much about her ability to survive against a determined man.

    Hey, but a woman as a sharpshooter, airline pilot, munitions or bombs expert, along with some other skills that require extreme dexterity, I can watch, because it’s believable. I don’t even watch Nikita anymore, because it’s so ridiculous. And the star looks like she really weights 55 lbs.

    I support Zoe. I’m fine with her. I’ll see Columbiana eventually. It’s online now.

    Thanks for the feedback, Sisterlocgirl. Great to hear from you. Happy New Year. 😀

  6. Interesting article. I find some of the numbers intriguing. I saw Drive in theaters twice (loved that movie!), and both times the theater was packed; so its hard for me to believe that this one was a flop. And I don’t remember Tiara Parker ANYWHERE in the film, I’ll have to look for her when I buy the DVD.

    GoldenAh: I get the cast list from IMDB. I believe they aren’t particularly ordered by appearance / importance. But she’s in there somewhere. Probably got 2 words in. Shame.

    Okay, I’ll check out Drive, but if I hate that film, I’m gonna hold you to account for wasting 2 hours of my life. Just playing. 😀

    I like Gosling, even if I think he cannot act. His best role is in: Half Nelson. Shareeka Epps is the true star of this flick. And I liked the movie.

    Some movies can seem like a flop. However, this list is based on top grosses: with a short, specific cutoff date and estimated by audience attendance per theater. A film with a tiny budget of $5-15 mil, spends maybe $20 mil in advertising, still makes a profit with $35 mil based on the take at domestic theaters, those profits go up with an international release, and the eternal profits of DVD / Blu-Ray sales, rentals, maybe a theater re-release, and royalties from TV / Cable showings. Gone With the Wind still makes money.

    Hollywood makes bank on nearly everything they churn out, unless they spent too much and it truly bombs. That’s why every few years they come out with a Director’s Cut or an Extended Theater release, etc. The film spigot flows forever. Smart actors get a cut of royalties and / or get listed as producer and executive producer. The actors who you hear about dying broke probably signed away their royalties during one of their drug frenzies or was robbed by their unscrupulous manager / agent.

    Really great to hear from you, Zabeth. Happy New Year! 😀

  7. I may be wrong BUT when a society loses its ‘moral compass’ eventually creativity goes with it. Although not right away: and as far as black women are concerned, there is still racism- many of us are very beautiful and others are jealous of us and makes many look bad i.e. The Help. Hollywood hit bottom but I love the film Courageous which wasnt even FILMED IN HOLLYWOOD

    GoldenAh: I hope to see some of the films, when they are available at the library. Otherwise, I’ll miss a few of them. ‘Cause I’m not about giving these folks my hard earned money, unless I really like the folks acting in it.

    There was a time (I really feel old saying this), when the doors opened a crack, and we could see some really dark and lovely black women on film. Then the door closed. It’s been shut ever since. I think the reality is that online, and other forms of media, will have to fill the void of entertainment where we see people who look like us acting normally or extraordinary.

    Oh, by the way found this online: Foreign Films (others by category) – YouTube is where the future lies and Hulu is not so bad. I haven’t been into Netflix, because there is so much free content online. or YouTube Movies or Hulu

    Thanks for the comments, Jubilee, and Happy New Year. 😀

  8. Goldenah, you had me rolling with this post. So much great, snarky commentary. Like you, I don’t go to the movies liked I used to. Some of that I attribute to getting older, and most mainstream films are targeted towards the teenage/young adult set – particularly male. The “high brow,” indie films tend to bore me, and I ain’t paying $10 to sit in a theater and be bored.

    I’m usually a movie fiend, but this has been the year where I missed many of the “blockbuster films”, except for X Men: The Lamest Generation and Mission Impossible: Making Tom Cruise Hot Again.

    Honestly, doesn’t Breaking Dawn sound like a porn title, or is that just me?

    Does not have a black actress with two black parents, but a half-half of two half-half was in it. So, I flipped a coin and decided to include Zoë Kravitz.


    I hadn’t heard about “seizures” at Twilight showings! 😉 But then I do my BEST to avoid any media frenzy surrounding that series. I’m still amazed that grown azz women act a plum fool about a teenage fantasy. Yes, I know at least three co-workers, all over 30, one damn near 50, who are Twihards. One co-worker begged me to go with her to see the second one, but insisted I watch the first movie, so I’d know what was going on. I still give her the side-eye. She knew not to ask me to see Breaking Dawn with her.

    I saw Bridesmaids, mainly because I thought it would be a fun ensemble comedy with women (it wasn’t). On another board, I, among a few others, tore the main “protagonist” to shreds with criticism. Good times. Others were not too pleased about it, and I didn’t give a flip. Tired of infantilism being propped up and justified in current films. Kali Hawk has a bit role, but is rather awesome in it. But she antagonizes the wimpy lead in a good way (being excellent at her job), so I’m biased.

    An action film with a black actress is a miss, but the black actress as a maid might be up for an Oscar?

    That just about sums it up. When The Help was released, there was a fair share of backlash from whites, particularly women (reacting to the backlash from primarily black women), which I found very interesting, especially given that the white Interwebz tends to remain relatively silent on racial matters, save for a few “enlightened” sites. One ignorant woman on a site proclaimed, and I quote:

    “And if you’re shedding light on a topic that no one has previously addressed, then what does it matter who writes the book, if the goal is accomplished.”

    Because heaven knows, only this white lady author has ever written about black maids and how they were treated during Jim Crow, right? Whoo, the idiocy was in full effect for this movie.

    As for the last few films you saw, I haven’t seen them, so can’t comment on the roles for black women. I used to like Zoe Saldana, but she made some questionable comments in Ebony a few months back and later tried to backtrack, and she lost me.

    Happy New Year, Goldenah!

    GoldenAh: Happy New Year, Daphne! 😀

    I’m never certain of when I’m funny, but I really love it when you ladies get me and right to the heart (breaking it down sometimes) of what I’m writing about.

    Tell it, Daphne! 😀 That attitude of “we aughts ta be grateful”, reminds me of my post, White Women. They really are unable to believe that they are NOT the center of our universe. They are women, but I don’t know how they get to being Prime Ruler and Queen of All Black Women too. The conceit of these WW thinking they know our history, pain, joy, bodies, emotions and mindset better than we do? Wow. That’s why I am not cool with any group of people putting on face paint and saying, “I can be black too.” They would NEVER accept us trying to appropriate what they are by redefining it as something less and insignificant.

    I predicted that they would eventually say they were the true force of the Civil Rights movement and that black people stood around looking confused until they did the “thinking” for us. That’s nearly every Hollywood “black history” flick. The traditional approach of whitewashing hasn’t changed a bit. These folks are bold. If we let them, we’ll only have MLK acknowledged, and other black leaders will become a figment of our collective imagination.

  9. The last movie I paid to see was Sex In The City in 2008 and I wouldn’t have gone to see that, but I agreed to go with somone to see it.Hollywood sucks lately in the originality and you can forget about diversity. Not much I would willing pay to see.

    And on a side note about the Twilight films, I think Kirsten Stewart is one of the most flat, one dimentional atresses I have ever seen. I didn’t realize that was her in Panick Room with Jodie Foster and Foresst Whiticker until it was pointed out. She still has the same expression on her face when she’s in movies. SMH. No range at all.

    GoldenAh: Never understood the appeal of Sex in the City: a bunch of old unattractive white women, okay one of them was half-decent, who play nookie with various unappealing, emotionally distant and weird men. I remember watching half-of-two episodes, but I think I’m more of a Seinfield kind of chick.

    Twilight ‘s an unintentional parody of the Vampire romance genre. That’s why I like watching it. The first film was very funny – trying so hard to be serious. I give props to the cinematographer, the scenery is beautiful and breathtaking. I’d love to go and see the Northwest.

    KS is probably the daughter of a star, director, executive producer or an agent. A lot of these overrated, non-acting, untalented, unattractive, flat-lined zombies are their offspring. No one can get far unless the public loves the actor or nepotism.

    KS, Ryan Gosling and Jack Gyllenhaal should make a movie together. I cannot think of three people with less range than them.

    Great to hear from you, Shirl, thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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