Black Films Should Get More Exposure Overseas, Boots Riley Says

(Bloomberg) -- As indie hit “Sorry to Bother You” prepares to make its international debut, director Boots Riley took to Twitter to debunk the persistent Hollywood myth that movies with black themes and casts don’t do well overseas.

“Even tho we’r outperforming a gang of other movies, distributors r claiming ‘Black movies’ dont do well internationally and r treating it as such,” Riley wrote. “There’r films that bombed here, that theyr distributing. Let em know wsup.”

Later in the Twitter thread, Riley said he wasn’t referring specifically to Annapurna Pictures, the production company that’s distributing his film. Annapurna has plans to release the movie overseas, according to someone familiar with those plans, but they haven’t been made public yet. With smaller, independent movies, distributors sometimes wait to see how domestic releases are received before announcing the international rollout.

Riley didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Owned by Oracle heiress Megan Ellison, Annapurna bought the worldwide rights to the movie at the Sundance Film Festival this year. The studio typically works with international partners for foreign distribution of its films, including “Zero Dark Thirty” and “American Hustle.”

In “Sorry to Bother You,” Lakeith Stanfield plays a black telemarketer who unlocks a key to professional success that leads him into a disturbing universe. The film opened in 16 theaters on July 6 to rave reviews; it is now playing across the U.S. and has earned $14.9 million at the box office.

Movies with black actors and themes are having a resurgence, buoyed by hits like “Black Panther,” ”Get Out” and “Hidden Figures,” all of which exceeded box-office expectations at home and abroad. Next up is “Blackkklansman,” a film directed by Spike Lee and produced by “Get Out” director Jordan Peele. It tells the true story of two Colorado cops -- one black and one Jewish -- who try to infiltrate the local chapter of the KKK. It will be distributed by Focus Features, and is slated for release on Aug. 10.

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