Proud Mary and its Marketing

Proud Mary is out this week in the US, but you probably didn’t know that, even though it’s starring Taraji Henson, in a John Wick-esque film. Why do some films generate considerably less buzz than others? Vox examines it:

Did you know that a rock ’em sock ’em, shoot-’em-up action flick starring Taraji P. Henson was coming out this weekend?

If you didn’t, you’re not alone. Proud Mary hit theaters on January 12, but it wasn’t screened for critics by its studio, Screen Gems (a division of Sony Pictures that specializes in genre and horror films). That means no critics were able to review it before it was released, a factor that also affects the film’s Rotten Tomatoes score (which appears on the Fandango ticket-purchasing page and can factor into ticket sales). And some people seemed surprised by the studio’s apparent attempts to bury the film, which included going so far as to cancel some Thursday screenings […]

So is the film itself bad, as the studio’s seeming lack of faith in it might imply? Well, it’s no masterpiece, to be sure. Some of its elements, like Henson’s performance, are good; others indicate that resources and talent were wasted on a “just okay” action movie that, with more care attention, could have been great.

But wherever it falls on the quality spectrum, the bigger, more concerning story here is that Proud Mary’s journey into the movie marketplace is a good example of how Hollywood still fundamentally doesn’t understand what to do with many movies starring black actors.

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