Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
David Oyelowo, Amma Asante & Rosamund Pike Teaming Up for Seretse Khama Feature Project David Oyelowo, Amma Asante & Rosamund Pike Teaming Up for Seretse Khama Feature Project 40+ Black Filmmakers Will Take Over Twitter Tomorrow for an AFFRM-ing Objective. You Should Join Them... 40+ Black Filmmakers Will Take Over Twitter Tomorrow for an AFFRM-ing Objective. You Should Join Them... Rae Dawn Chong Headlines ‘7 Magpies’ - All-Black Female Director Horror Anthology Film Rae Dawn Chong Headlines ‘7 Magpies’ - All-Black Female Director Horror Anthology Film Weekend B.O. May 22-24 (What’s the Point, Seriously?) Weekend B.O. May 22-24 (What’s the Point, Seriously?) Why ‘The View’ Badly Needs Raven-Symoné Why ‘The View’ Badly Needs Raven-Symoné It's Black Bike Week! Watch 2 Short Documentaries on the Popular Annual Event It's Black Bike Week! Watch 2 Short Documentaries on the Popular Annual Event British Filmmaker Peter Greenaway Preps Feature on Alexandre Dumas British Filmmaker Peter Greenaway Preps Feature on Alexandre Dumas Exclusive Poster + Trailer for LAFF 2015 Dramedy Selection, 'French Dirty' Exclusive Poster + Trailer for LAFF 2015 Dramedy Selection, 'French Dirty' Here's the List of Films & TV Series Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library in June Here's the List of Films & TV Series Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library in June Watch Trailer for Teen TV Drama Series in Development, ‘MysEducation’ Watch Trailer for Teen TV Drama Series in Development, ‘MysEducation’ Watch Grace Jones’ “Banned” Citroën CX TV Commercial Watch Grace Jones’ “Banned” Citroën CX TV Commercial David Oyelowo on the Craft of Acting & Advice for Young Actors David Oyelowo on the Craft of Acting & Advice for Young Actors Get Your Fill (or Feel on) of "Sexy Chocolate" in 4 New Clips from 'Chocolate City' Get Your Fill (or Feel on) of "Sexy Chocolate" in 4 New Clips from 'Chocolate City' Official First Look Images from Detroit-Set indie drama ‘Wolf Who Cried Boy’ Official First Look Images from Detroit-Set indie drama ‘Wolf Who Cried Boy’ Morgan Freeman's Bass Reeves Project Finally Gets a Lift, Thanks to HBO Morgan Freeman's Bass Reeves Project Finally Gets a Lift, Thanks to HBO First Look at CBS' 'Rush Hour' Series + Official Synopsis First Look at CBS' 'Rush Hour' Series + Official Synopsis 'Chocolate City' Finally Gets a Trailer + Release Date Set (Might It Steal Some of 'Magic Mike's' Summer Thunder?) 'Chocolate City' Finally Gets a Trailer + Release Date Set (Might It Steal Some of 'Magic Mike's' Summer Thunder?) Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Is 'The Great Gatsby's' Great Secret That He's Actually A Black Man? Is 'The Great Gatsby's' Great Secret That He's Actually A Black Man?

Fox Searchlight Takes Amma Asante's 'Belle' (Black Films Are In Vogue Again...)

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act July 1, 2013 at 11:44AM

What a turnaround in attitude towards "black films" for both The Weinstein Company (TWC) and Fox Searchlight in the last 12 months, it seems. You might recall that these were 2 companies that previously questioned the box office appeal of "black films" 3 or 4 years ago, given that those they'd acquired and released back then, hadn't fared as well as expectations.
1
Belle Pics

What a turnaround in attitude towards "black films" for both The Weinstein Company (TWC) and Fox Searchlight in the last 12 months, it seems. You might recall that these were 2 companies that previously questioned the box office appeal of "black films" 3 or 4 years ago, given that those they'd acquired and released back then, hadn't fared as well as expectations.

Now these 2 companies combined, hold the fates of several upcoming, high-profile "black films" in their hands. We've already touched on TWC's acquisitions of Fruitvale Station, The Butler, and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom (all scheduled to open in the next 6 months). 

As for Fox Searchlight, in addition to the rom-com Baggage Claim, as well as the musical Black Nativity, and the slave drama 12 Years A Slave (all also scheduled to hit theaters in the next 6 months, making for a competitive fall schedule for "black films" - something we've touched on previously), the company has now announced its acquisition of North America and UK rights to British director, Amma Asante’s Belle.

A film that I predicted would debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May (but didn't), Asante's Belle is a period drama about the trials and tribulations of a mixed-race girl, in the 1700s. It stars Gugu Mbatha-RawMiranda RichardsonTom Wilkinson, Sarah GadonSam Claflin, and Matthew Goode

The story takes place in the 1780s, and is based on a true story - specifically, the true story of Dido Belle, a mixed-race woman raised as an aristocrat in 18th-century England. It follows Belle, adopted into an aristocratic family, who faces class and color prejudices. As she blossoms into a young woman, she develops a relationship with a vicar's son who is an advocate for slave emancipation. 

Her full name was Dido Elizabeth Belle, born 1761, died 1804; she was the illegitimate daughter of John Lindsay (a white British Naval officer) and an African slave woman known only as Belle

Mbatha-Raw is of course playing the lead role. 

The project, which we've been following for about a year now, since it was first announced overseas, was developed and supported by the British Film Institute

It also co-stars Tom Felton (from the Harry Potter movies), Sam Reid (playing Belle's love interest), James Norton and Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey). 

Fox Searchlight has set an early 2014 release date for the film.

Director Asante said: “The experience and sensibilities of the team at Fox Searchlight make it a wonderful match for Belle. I am so pleased their passion for this film means it now has the ability to be seen by audiences worldwide. We’ve worked hard to turn historical facts of the life of a true pioneer into a compelling and moving cinema experience.

In a statement, Fox Searchlight Pictures presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula said: “Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a revelation as Belle, she gives a brave and powerful performance joined by an outstanding ensemble cast and we look forward to introducing her to film audiences everywhere.  We were entranced by this inspiring story of love and perseverance during a time of significant social and legal changes.

The deal was brokered by Fox Searchlight’s Ray Strache, Megan O’Brien and Tony Safford, with Bankside Films’ Hilary Davis and Stephen Kelliher, and Christos Michaels of Lee & Thompson, as well as Steve Christian on behalf of Isle of Man Film and Pinewood Pictures

Misan Sagay penned the script; Damian Jones produced.

And now the wait for the film's first trailer begins...


Shadow & ActNewsletter