"Red Tails" flew into theaters on Friday, as the George Lucas-produced film about the Tuskegee Airmen earned $6 million at the box office.
The film earned an A CinemaScore from moviegoers, and was buoyed by a enthusiastic African-American support that included communities sending busloads of eager viewers to theaters. It received a screening at the White House, with the director, Anthony Hemingway, and a cast that included Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr., presenting the film for President Obama; and was screened at an event that honored the real life Tuskegee Airmen, the crew of all-black World War II pilots.
Also drawing publicity for the film was Lucas's appearance on "The Daily Show," in which he told Jon Stewart that Hollywood studios were unwilling to finance a war picture with an all-black cast. He financed the film entirely on his own, putting nearly $100 million into production and marketing.
The film has been called by many as crucial to the future of black filmmaking -- Tyler Perry has said that all-black casts are on the verge of extinction -- and if it succeeds at the box office, Lucas believes that it will help black filmmakers get the green light on their pictures more easily. He also told the New York Times in a recent profile that the movie was important for its celebration of black history, and that it served to give African American filmgoers heroes like those that were portrayed in mostly white WWII movies.
"They have a right to have their history just like anybody else does," Lucas said. "And they have a right to have it kind of Hollywood-ized and aggrandized and made corny and wonderful just like anybody else does. Even if that's not the fashion right now."