“Think Like a Man,” the No. 1 movie in North America over the weekend came as a shock to the movie industry: the romantic comedy aimed at black audiences grossed $33 million, double what execs predicted. But it’s those same skeptic studio executives who end up winning because the film only cost $13 million to make.
“Think Like a Man,” is based on Steve Harvey’s bestselling book and stars an almost all-black cast.
There’s a common understanding amongst studio executives in Hollywood that films with black protagonists don’t make money and as a result they won’t take risks with films. For reference, Universal’s production budget for the recently released “American Wedding” was $50 million, excluding marketing costs. “The Lucky One” starring Zac Efron which was released last Friday cost about $25 million to make–double the budget of “Think like a man.” (I would argue that “Think Like a Man” had a bigger cast with more recognizable names and it was still a cheaper movie to make than other films opening this weekend…flagging another issue, of course.)
Even highly celebrated director Tyler Perry who consistently rakes in millions at box offices has relatively low budgets for his films. In January, when Perry learned “Star Wars” director George Lucas couldn’t fund his film “Red Tails” he said “movies starring an all African American cast are on the verge of becoming extinct.”
“The first thing they’ll say is that DVD sales have become very soft, so it’s hard for a movie with an all black cast to break-even,” Perry wrote on his website. “Secondly they’ll say, most movies are now dependent on foreign sales to be successful and most “black” movies don’t sell well in foreign markets.”