The New Year will be an exciting time for black cinema. Several bankable feature films, including Proud Mary, Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time, are scheduled to hit movie theaters in the first half of 2018. Because each of these highly anticipated films is diverse – ranging from action to science fiction and drama –the potential to reach an equally diverse audience is great. So mark your calendar and get your popcorn money ready.
Here’s a preview of the top 5 films we’re looking forward to in early 2018:
Proud Mary stars Taraji P. Henson as a professional hit woman, and the action-packed trailer set to the iconic Tina Turner version of “Proud Mary,” brings to mind movies that usually star male actors like Will Smith and Jamie Foxx or white actresses like Charlize Theron and Angelina Jolie. The film title’s retro font also recalls badass chick blaxploitation classics like Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones. In the film, Mary is a leather-clad assassin for an organized crime family in Boston. Here life is forever changed when she crosses paths with a young boy during a hit gone wrong. Danny Glover, Margaret Avery and Billy Brown (How to Get Away with Murder) co-star.
In this time of heightened racism and injustice against black and brown people, we need a hero. So Black Panther (Marvel Studios) is right on time and unapologetically black and beautiful. The trailer is so off the hook we can barely contain our excitement. Directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) and starring Chadwick Boseman (Marshall, 42, Get on Up), the action, sci-fi flick tells the story of T’Challa (aka Black Panther), who after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne. Black Panther stars just about every top black actor in Hollywood, including Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead), Angela Basset, Forest Whitaker, Sterling K. Brown (This is Us) and Coogler’s good luck charm, Michael B. Jordan. Jordan plays militant super villain Erik Killmonger, who is hell bent on overthrowing Black Panther’s regime.
Directed by Ava DuVernay and starring Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon, A Wrinkle in Time (Disney) is the supernatural story of a 13-year-old girl who is transported on an adventure through time and space with her younger brother Charles Wallace and her friend Calvin O’Keefe to rescue her father, a gifted scientist, from the evil forces that hold him prisoner on another planet. As director of this film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved children’s book, DuVernay made history as the first woman of color to direct a live-action $100 million movie. And that’s just one of the history-making benchmarks she could set with the imaginative film. A Wrinkle in Time stars newcomer Storm Reid as the young teen heroine Meg Murry, and the three peculiar neighbors who assist her on her journey are played by Winfrey, Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling.
Tyler Perry is the king of melodrama, and Acrimony (Lionsgate) looks like an edge of your seat winner. Taraji P. Henson’s leading lady career is on a roll and she also stars in this suspenseful “he did me wrong” drama about a faithful wife who goes more than a little cray-cray after she discovers her devious husband has betrayed her. And yes, she’s got the right to be hostile.
The nail biting thriller Traffik (Codeblack Films/Lionsgate) stars Paula Patton and Omar Epps as a stunning young couple who go on a romantic mountain getaway. Then things get hairy. The lovebirds encounter and are terrorized by a vicious group of sex traffickers and engage in a desperate fight for their survival. And you thought this kind of thing only happened to white folks. Written, produced and directed by Hidden Empire Film Group founder Deon Taylor, the film’s cast includes Laz Alonso, Roselyn Sanchez, Luke Goss, Missi Pyle and William Fichtner.
While the trailer is not available yet, producer Paula Patton offered a few words on Facebook.
“Ready for April 27th when I can share a film close to my heart, Traffik. I had the opportunity to act and produce this movie in a hands on, creative way… more so than ever before. And, we are shedding light on human trafficking, a massive issue on a global scale that needs to be addressed.”