Drawing $33 million over the weekend, "Think Like a Man" opened No.1 at the box office. In a David and Goliath move, the film knocked the blockbuster "Hunger Games" out of first place. The media is describing the success of the film, which features a mostly black cast and is based on Steve Harvey's dating advice book of the same name, as a surprise. "Think Like a Man" cost just $13 million to make and earned that back on Friday alone. Sony executives reportedly expected the film to bring in just $17 million altogether on opening weekend.
"It was a wild ride. It just got better and better as the night went on Friday. Then to be up so much on Saturday," Rory Bruer, head of distribution at Sony, told CBS News.
The content of this romantic comedy--starring Gabrielle Union, Michael Ealy, Taraji P. Henson and Jerry Ferrara (of "Entourage" fame)--isn't exactly earth shattering. However, the success of the film is significant because it challenges the idea that black films won't appeal to a mainstream audience. "Think Like a Man" not only stands out from other romantic comedies because of the racial makeup of its cast but also because it appealed to both women and men. It wasn't marketed as a film solely for women, which means that a number of men likely caught a showing during opening weekend.
What I find surprising about "Think Like a Man" is that so many seemed to be stunned by its success. I thought Tyler Perry's series of hits, however over-the-top or lowbrow, dispelled the notion that black films don't do well at the box office. Evidently, I was wrong.
I've yet to see "Think Like a Man," but did catch the documentary "Marley," about the life and music of the reggae superstar, over the weekend. The film devoted a lot of time to discussing Bob Marley's biracial background. His mother was a black Jamaican, but his father was an Englishman. Apparently Marley faced discrimination from black Jamaicans because he was half-European, even though he grew up estranged from his father. Despite this Marley had a largely Afrocentric identity. He celebrated the independence of African nations from colonial rule and wanted Africans and African Americans alike to embrace his music. I recommend the film.
Another documentary I'd like to see but haven't gotten around to yet is "The Manzanar Fishing Club." The film tells the story of Japanese-American internees at the Manzanar Relocation Center who slipped away at nighttime to go fishing. I've written extensively about the Japanese-American internment experience on the Race Relations site because I think this disgraceful chapter in American history is too often overlooked. Given this, anything that calls attention to the internment period while celebrating Asian Americans is arguably worth checking out. It's also a great way to show your support for Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, which kicks off in May.