- 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 million||Financed by: Lucasfilm|
|Domestic Box Office: $49,876,377||Overseas 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. Studios were uninterested in financing or distributing the picture, so George Lucas sunk $58 million of his vast fortune into the production for Red Tails 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.