By: Tim cogshell
The narrative of Black Panther, its general entertainment values – which are significant – and its representations of Black folks in the contemporary zeitgeist all matter deeply and have generated for the film and its makers extraordinary reviews and acclaim. I’ve written about the movie here: http://cinegods.com/film-review-black-panther/.
But it’s MONEY that I’m thinking about at the moment.
A most significant moment in the history of Hollywood filmmaking.
There are practical matters of finance associated with the success of the Black Panther film, the first in the Marvel Universe to generate real wealth (as Chris Rock would call it) that will accrue to a good many Black people for decades to come. As of this writing Black Panther is officially the highest grossing February release ever and it achieved the fifth best opening weekend all time.
Indeed Black Panther has already made a lot of Black folks rich, but will be making them wealthy over time – which is even better.
Wealth – meaning millions of dollars that have already flowed to many Black folks via the film’s substantial budget (200 million) and the healthy salaries already paid to a cast of notable professionals; director, writers, producers, stars and many exceptional designers and craftspeople. Several having academy award nominations already in their credits – none of them cheap. I dare say more money has been paid to Black actors, directors, writers and producers on Black Panther than on any other film in the history of Hollywood.
I just pulled that out of my ass – yet somehow I’m pretty sure it’s true.
For the first time a Hollywood enterprise will make Black men and women rich – and perhaps powerful – in the same ways that big-budget action laden superhero flicks have made so many White male stars and directors and writers very rich – independently wealthy – such that they never had to work for anyone or do anything that they didn’t want to do – ever again.
This will be true for a number of people associated with Black Panther and more than ever before will be Black people. Consider this – how many Brown or Black folks became rich off of the many films and billions of Pounds Sterling, and dollars, generated by the Harry Potter series of films?
If your answer is none, you just pulled that out of your ass – but you’re probably right.
Black Panther, and all the associated income that will flow from its sequels and merchandising for many Christmas’ and Halloweens to come; from action figures to likeness of the characters (ergo the stars), on all manner of properly licensed items will make Ryan Coogler, Chadwick Boseman, Lupita NyOng’o, Michael B. Jordan and Danai Gurira as rich as Jon Favreau, Robert Downey, Jr., the Chris who played Captain America and the other Chris who played Captain Kirk. Not to mention as rich as Ryan Reynolds, who got to play The Green Lantern and Deadpool before he got a superhero right – and got crazy-paid both times.
And don’t get me started how many White guys Batman has made rich. Prince is the only brotha every to get a nickel out of that franchise.
The filmmakers of Black Panther will be rich and eventually wealthy – and – powerful filmmakers.
Ryan Coogler, who, with Fruitvale Station, Creed and Black Panther, has written and directed three critically acclaimed hits each more successful than the last, should own this town. He should get card blanche’ to do – frankly – whatever the fuck he wants to do.
Like Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson received the power to do whatever they want to do when they had three major hits in a row. Thus pop-star Harry Styles is in Dunkirk and that nutty ending is in The Phantom Thread – because Nolan and PTA can do whatever the fuck the want to do. Card blanche’. Which is what Coogler should have – now.
So… for the first time a good deal, if not most, of the wealth and power-capital generated from a big budget, studio produced and marketed, major motion picture will accrue to a bunch of Black people and that’s a seminal moment in Hollywood.
This wealth and stature will be felt and leveraged well beyond the more visible “creators” of Black Panther; the writers and director and glamorous stars. The film’s Production Designers and Wardrobe Designers and Composer, all Black, all earning “A” list incomes for their work on the movie, will earn substantial residual incomes for that work for decades to come. And their rates just went up. They will be among the best paid in their respective fields because of their work on this movie. And that matters.
As an aside, Black Panther’s cinematographer is Rachel Morrison, a female person who happens not to be African American. By happenstance, this year she is also the first woman to be nominated for an Oscar in her field for her work on Mudbound. Henceforth Ms. Morrison will be making Roger Deakins money. If she wins the Oscar she’ll make more than Roger – cuz – at the writing of the piece Mr. Deakins has yet to win an Academy Award. Though he is nominated this year as well for his work on Dunkirk and something else I can’t remember at the moment. No matter I hope the “girl” wins. Roger will be fine, he’s been making millions of dollars per-film he’s DP’d for 40 years without the statute. For Racheal it will translate into money and work that may make her as rich as Roger Deakins someday – and she’ll have an Academy Award.
In the future the CG effects in Black Panther will probably look laughably bad, as all CG effects are doomed to – eventually. Still the money spent to generate all the special effects, and everything else that went into making the first Marvel Superhero film to feature a Black lead – and a predominantly Black cast – will be providing significant income – wealth – to a lot of Black folks and women for decades. Thus making the arrival of the Black Panther seminal in the history of a Hollywood in a number of ways above and below the title. This transfer of wealth from Hollywood coiffures to the bank accounts of Black folks and a lot of women – many of them Black women – is as notable an event associated with the movie industry as any in its history.
I’d put it up there with the additions of sound and color. No pun intended.
*** Black Panther generated $25 million in pre-sells and $300 million plus world wide over its opening holiday weekend becoming the highest grossing February release ever and the fifth best opening weekend all time.