In the works for decades, the George Lucas-produced WWII film "Red Tails," about the famed Tuskegee Airmen, first started filming way back in 2009. And there is a lot riding on this movie, including no less the fate of financing for movies centered around or featuring black actors in the lead role. According to Lucas, the future of those types of films may inadvertently be in the balance as Hollywood eyes the success (or failure) of "Red Tails."
Speaking recently with USA Today (you can watch the full interview below), Lucas was candid about how his project may change perceptions in Hollywood where it's already difficult to get black movies made. ""I realize that by accident I've now put the black film community at risk [with 'Red Tails,' whose $58 million budget far exceeds typical all-black productions]," Lucas explained. "I'm saying, if this doesn't work, there's a good chance you'll stay where you are for quite a while. It'll be harder for you guys to break out of that (lower-budget) mold. But if I can break through with this movie, then hopefully there will be someone else out there saying let's make a prequel and sequel, and soon you have more Tyler Perrys out there."
And by Tyler Perrys, he means (hopefully) not the lowest common denominator dreck that actor/writer/producer/director trots out every six months or so (albeit to massive financial success), but rather more folks with the power to greenlight stories and get movies made. And we're with him on that.
At the very least, "Red Tails" will have Lucas' full Industrial Light & Magic arsenal and firepower behind it. Directed by Anthony Hemingway ("The Wire"), with reshoots helmed by Lucas himself (Hemingway was busy shooting "Treme" at the time, but had final approval of the project) the film looks (thus far in the trailers) to provide great action, while the dramatic parts are a bit more uneven. And in the stretch of the seven minutes of the film that have popped up online (via Shadow & Act), that assessment still holds true as well, which does leave us with some concern about the movie.
That said, when it's got a cast featuring folks like Terrence Howard, NeYo, Andre Royo, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bryan Cranston, Method Man and more, and features a score by Spike Lee regular Terence Blanchard, we're keeping an open mind.
"Red Tails" opens on January 20th. Watch the footage and the interview with Lucas below.