In an appearance on The Daily Show last night, George Lucas said that he had trouble getting funding for his new movie, “Red Tails,” because of its black cast.
“This has been held up for release since 1942 since it was shot, I’ve been trying to get released ever since,” Lucas quipped to Jon Stewart. “It’s because it’s an all-black movie. There’s no major white roles in it at all…I showed it to all of them and they said no. We don’t know how to market a movie like this.”
“Red Tails,” which stars Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Terrence Howard, is based on the Tuskegee Airmen, the group of pioneering black pilots who fought in the United States’ segregated armed forces during World War II. The movie is directed by Anthony Hemingway, the rare black director getting a chance to direct a big-budget feature.
Last week, Lucas told USA Today that he was worried that if Red Tails was a failure, it could have negative repercussions for black filmmakers. “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],” he said. “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.”
by Gene Demby