Red Tails

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  • Directed By: Anthony Hemingway
  • Written By: John Ridley, Aaron McGruder
  • Release Date: January 20, 2012
  • Domestic Distributor: Lucasfilm (through FOX)
  • Cast: Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Nate Parker

Box Office Info:
Budget: $58 millionFinanced by: Lucasfilm
Domestic Box Office: $49,876,377Overseas Box Office: $489,121

George Lucas began developing Red Tails back in 1988, but the project was put aside when Lucasfilm was working on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles — then moved onto the special editions of the Star Wars trilogy — then the prequels — and finally the story of the Tuskegee Airmen was the priority project at Lucasfilm.  The budget for Red Tails was $58 million and studios were uninterested in financing or distributing the picture, so George Lucas used his vast fortune to fund the production and an additional $35 million to distribute and market through FOX.

Production was completed in 2009 and then the picture was delayed after reshoots were needed.  George Lucas took over directing duties for the additional filming in 2010, as director Anthony Hemingway was busy working on the series Treme.  Red Tails was eventually dated for January 20, 2012 and it bowed against Underworld Awakening, Haywire and the wide expansion of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

Reviews were mixed to poor and the picture was tracking for a low teens opening.  Red Tails came in above expectations with $18,782,154 — placing #2 for the weekend led by Underworld Awakening.  Audiences gave the movie a solid A cinemascore and it declined 44.8% in its second frame to $10,370,32 but then sank 54.3% in its third session to $4,735,595.  The domestic run closed with $49,876,377.  Lucas would see returned about $27.3 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, plus a fee to FOX for use of their distribution resources.

While promoting Red Tails, Lucas lamented that no studio would finance a film starring an all black cast, because the foreign market would reject the film.  Red Tails was barely released theatrically outside the US and made $478,899 in the UK and $10k in Croatia.  The film pulled in soft, but decent enough numbers in the US, but not nearly enough to offset that lack of a proper release outside of the states.  The billionaire took a sizable loss, but completed his decades old dream project.


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  1. The early credit “Inspired by true events” was a warning. This was a 40’s, 50’s WWII film with a Black cast and lots of cgi. Accepting that, it was still enjoyable. The cgi was necessary because there just aren’t many of those airplanes still around. It was also laughable to see whole squadrons of bombers, their escorts and the German attackers in a single frame! It’s a big sky, they would of been more spread out. I still had fun watching this and the film gives overdue credit to the Tuskegee Airmen. Yes, I know there was another, probably better film a few years earlier.

  2. It was the worst war movie ever. It was a bad script from day one, bad acting, poor direction. I can’t remember all the details, but the scene I remember most, is a Pilot going head to head against a Me 262 with 4 30 mm “Cannons” And the pilot goes, Ohh. I’m dying, I”m dying, say farewell to my Italian girlfriend. That 30 mm cannon would have scattered his body all over the cockpit. It was a farce. No wonder it went to Video a week later. The movie was so bad, I cheered for the Germans.

  3. Smh despite the bullshit criticism I love this movie, me and my mom went and saw it n theaters and enjoyed I applaud George Lucas 4 bringing the Tuskegee airmen story 2 the big screen and everything he said was right about other studios not wanting 2 finance the movie and promote it overseas because of the all black cast just like with Black Panther that movie also was heavily criticized because of the all black cast even though it made more money at the box office only because it’s a Marvel movie but this just goes 2 show u that racism will never go away n this sad pathetic world that we live n

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