|Editor's Note: A film's success is gauged by the opening weekend's box office
receipts. So for films like "The Visit," that are outside the Hollywood
mainstream, the battle is decidedly uphill. As Hill Harper says in his open
letter, "The Visit" is considered by many within the film world to be without
an audience because it is an emotional drama featuring AFRICAN-AMERICANS,
WITHOUT BROAD COMEDY OR PHYSICAL VIOLENCE." But I suggest that the real
battle comes from the fact that "The Visit" was written, directed, produced,
stars and is being distributed by African Americans.
As you may know our movie "The Visit" opens this Friday, April 20th in over
200 theaters in select locations. In number of theaters this is a larger than
usual opening for what is considered a "specialty," film; if it does well it
will then expand to more theaters and more locations. We are writing you to
ask for your support in making this weekend's box office performance of "The
Visit" an EVENT.
If it is it will catch many of the powers that be in Hollywood by surprise.
Despite tremendous audience reaction and numerous awards and nominations, of
"The Visit" is still considered by many within the film world to be without
an audience. This is because it is an emotional drama featuring
AFRICAN-AMERICANS, WITHOUT BROAD COMEDY OR PHYSICAL VIOLENCE. Unfortunately,
the daily life of black people in this country, with all its inherent and
universal dreams, tears, and laughter -- a life led by 14 Million ticket
buyers, is considered a foreign language by studios and distributors.
The first studios that saw of "The Visit" said essentially the audience it
was intended for only wanted explosions and naked butts. The first offers by
distributors were built around an assumption that African Americans needed to
be patronized to and treated like child-consumers to be coaxed into the
theater. It was only upon meeting up with Urbanworld Films, a new black owned
distribution company started by former executives from Miramax that of "The
Visit" found a home built upon respect for its audience. This did not please
the distributors who had made offers, and as the movie has gained momentum
they have been reassuring their colleagues that it will fail to attract its
"The Visit" is intended as a spiritual adventure, an experience that we hope
after seeing it makes you feel more alive than when you came in. But there is
something greater than this one movie at stake. The powers that be in this
case need to be proven wrong so that of "The Visit" stays in the theaters
past week one. If it does not do well its opening weekend it will be yanked.
If it does do well, not only will more people get to see it in the theaters
but maybe it will also chip away at the ignorance and misperception of black
audiences that pervades Hollywood. Maybe it will open up the opportunity for
other movie makers to create their own emotional thrillers without the hassle
of a thousand voices telling them that their audience is too dumb to
We are writing asking that you bless us with your participation in this part
of the journey. of "The Visit" opens Friday in New York, Washington, DC,
Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Baltimore.
It is pegged for 10 more cities the following week if it does well Friday,
Saturday, and Sunday. We are asking that you alert all your friends via this
email or phone in these areas and others to come out with you opening weekend
and support the movie. It is not like taking medicine, we believe they will
get more than their moneys worth in an enriching and entertaining experience.
But if the movie does well in its first few days, we also believe we will
have all participated in a movement. And maybe the mountain will shift a bit
from our collective force and some sunlight will come down and create warmth.
Hill Harper & Jordan Walker-Pearlman
Click here for a preview of The Visit.