Is CodeBlack Changing Hollywood's Approach to Black Viewers?


At the Wrap's Lucas Shaw says that CodeBlack Entertainment, a small, revitalized production company, hopes to be at the center of a Hollywood renaissance of films about African Americans, including Lee Daniels' The Butler and Oscar hopeful 12 Years a Slave

For 15 years, Jeff Clanagan sold comedy specials and faith-based movies to people watching at home. When the home-entertainment market collapsed a few years ago, he began to chart a new path for CodeBlack Entertainment.

He joined forces with Lionsgate, home to Tyler Perry, and decided to focus on something new: quality. CodeBlack had always released movies for African-American audiences, acquiring 15 to 20 movies a year and selling them at Wal-Mart and other retailers.

His new bosses asked him to make less with more, releasing fewer movies each year but diversifying his output, producing and distributing a wider array of films for the same market. He's still producing comedy specials, but also starry films like "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete."

The movie, directed by George Tillman Jr., arrives in theaters this weekend amid a resurgence in films about African-American subjects. "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete" centers on two kids who must survive on their own after their drug-addicted caretaker abandons them.

It stars familiar faces such as Jennifer Hudson, Anthony Mackie and Jeffrey Wright, but in roles that make them unrecognizable. Hudson is a drug-addled prostitute, Mackie a gang leader and Wright a hobo.

"We're not doing the same types of movies, the same cliché movies that we've done in the past," Clanagan told TheWrap. "This was just a great movie, a great story and different from what we've seen targeted towards this niche audience."

Read Lucas Shaw's entire piece at the Wrap.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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