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Sorry to Bother You, but black films deserve international distribution


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First time director and the darling of Sundance this year Boots Riley has spoken out on Twitter about why his smash-hit Sorry to Bother You has not yet been picked up for international distribution, despite bringing in a huge box office in the US since it's release last month.

Image Credit: Tony Chu


Though indie, Sorry to Bother You is far from a niche film. The leading duo are Lakeith Stanfield, famous for Donald Glover's wildly popular Atlanta as well as the Oscar winning Get Out (2017), and Tessa Thompson, who's taken the world by storm after her breakout role in Creed (2015) with Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and Annihilation (2018). 

These bankable rising stars are supported by the likes of Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name, The Social Network), Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine Nine, Deadpool 2), Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead, Okja), funnyman Jermaine Fowler, and Forest Whittaker himself.

The synopsis states: "In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a universe of greed."

"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," tweeted Riley last week. He raises these concerns in response to clamour for international distribution of the film that's only had a U.S. release so far.

It's a stark reminder of the racism that underpins the decisions made by distributers, which dictate what films audiences have access to. This has a knock on effect on how much money they make at the box office, therefore backing up their circular argument that certain films don't do well internationally

It's frankly laughable to claim that ""Black movies" dont do well internationally," when Black Panther broke box office records worldwide - so much so that there's a Wikipedia page entitled "List of Black Panther box office achievements". Not to mention the international success of the likes of Moonlight, Girls' Trip, Hidden Figures, Fences, and many many more.

The BBC picked up Atlanta a ridiculous two years after its award winning first season aired in the U.S. - presumably realising that there in fact is an audience in the UK hungry for the story. Sorry to bother you, but if it comes down to it, I'll distribute the film myself. Black films deserve to be celebrated at least as much as any number of white films that get international distribution despite not doing well on their home turf.

Riley ends his tweet with a call to action: "There'r films that bombed here, that theyr distributing. Let em know wsup"

Here's a link to Riley's original tweet - use the hashtag #SorryToBotherYou to "Let em know wsup."

Sorry to Bother You currently has no UK release date.

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