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Amid Competition, Gina Prince-Bythewood's 'Blackbird' Gets a New Title

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act June 16, 2014 at 10:40AM

BET networks partnered with Relativity Media to produce and distribute the film.
Director Gina Prince-Bythewood
Director Gina Prince-Bythewood

It was likely inevitable as I've said in the past, given that the seemingly popular title also belonged to 2 other films that will be in release within the next 12 months: Patrik-Ian Polk's 5th feature film, which stars Isaiah Washington and Mo'Nique, titled "Blackbird," and David Mamet's thriller starring Cate Blanchett, also "Blackbird."

Polk's film is currently traveling the film festival circuit, while Mamet's is set for release in 2015.

BET announced in September that the network had partnered with Relativity Media to produce writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood's next feature, now titled "Beyond the Lights."

This pairing marks the very first collaboration between BET and Relativity, and possibly not the last.

"Relativity is always looking to work with creative and original companies like BET Networks. We are excited to have them on board," said Tucker Tooley, president of Relativity Media, in a press statement when the deal was announced.

Loretha Jones, President of Original Programming and News for BET, added: “BET Networks is excited to partner for the first time ever with film and television studio, Relativity Media to create a film that matches the high-quality caliber production expected by our viewers. BET Networks looks forward to the first of many collaborations and sharing the final production on the big screen with our U.S and African audiences via its theatrical release.”

Bythewood's "Beyond the Lights" stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker and Danny Glover.

Stephanie Allain is producing and The-Dream is creating all the original music for film, which will be choreographed by Laurieann Gibson.

The film's official synopsis reads:

Blackbird is the story of Noni Jean, a hot new artist who has just won a Grammy and is primed for stardom. But the pressures of success compel her to nearly end her life until she is saved by a young police officer. They fall hard for each other, despite the protests of their parents who want each to focus on their own career ambitions. But he might be the missing piece to unlock her artistic potential. 

Relativity president Tucker Tooley is exec producing with Matt Alvarez and Reggie Bythewood.

"Beyond the Lights" will be released theatrically by Relativity, with an official release date now set for November 14, 2014. After that, it'll have an exclusive television premiere in the U.S. and South Africa on BET.

This will be Bythewood's first feature film directorial effort since 2008's "The Secret Life of Bees."

This article is related to: Gina Prince-Bythewood, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, Danny Glover

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