Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer has vowed to organize Black Panther movie screenings for underserved children. Marvel’s Black Panther is shaping up to be 2018’s first big cinematic event. The film, which has drawn nearly unanimous rapturous early reactions, doesn’t come out until the middle of the month, but the buzz is already huge for the tentpole. Directed by Creed’s Ryan Coogler, and starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright, Black Panther is the first superhero movie of the modern era based around an African hero, with a mostly black cast and black writers/director.
While the film, like the many Marvel Cinematic Universe movies before it, is certainly going for mass appeal, it’s also a clearly a very important film to African-American audiences specifically. A crowdfunding effort last month by the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem to buy Black Panther tickets for children in Harlem to see the film was hugely successful, raising $44,000, or four times its original goal; Ellen DeGeneres, hosting Boseman and organizer Frederick Joseph on her show, surprised them by agreeing to cover the cost of the screenings and redirecting the $44,000 back to the Club. Now, Spencer has stepped forward with an effort of her own to get kids to the Black Panther movie.
Spencer announced on her Instagram this week that she plans to buy out a theater in an “underserved community” in Mississippi, in order “to ensure that all our brown children can see themselves as a superhero.” Spencer sponsored a similar screening, in Los Angeles, for her 2016 movie Hidden Figures.
Spencer, who last week was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in The Shape of Water, chose Mississippi because she will be there the week the film opens. She added that she will specify later where in that state, and when, the theater showing will take place.
The efforts to put Black Panther in front of children are very admirable. Representation is important, and while there’s a lot about this film that will likely appeal to wide cross-sections of audiences, it’s a truly unique event for a big-budget Hollywood movie to provide such a positive message to youth of color. The only question is, why isn’t Disney, a multi-billion dollar corporation, organizing and paying for these screenings themselves, and instead leaving it to actresses and crowdfunding campaigns?
Source: Octavia Spencer
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