Global Voices, an international community of bloggers, reported this week that the top box office movie “Think Like a Man” won’t open in French theaters “due to a lack of diversity.” The news was reported on by many French and American bloggers as well as on social networks, but nothing has been said by the French official press yet.
With the success of Tim Story’s romantic movie in the United States heard about overseas, some French people couldn’t wait to see it on the big screen.
Belinda Yem, a French student in Paris who spoke with the Amsterdam News, said she was “shocked” when she learned the news. “When I first saw the trailer…I couldn’t wait to see it on big screens, but unfortunately it seems that it won’t happen in France,” she said.
She added, “Some of the French news declared that the movie doesn’t reflect the whole society because the cast is not diverse. When Black people are presented as independent and successful people, it seems to be a serious problem. But when it comes to present us with all the usual types of stigmatization, it seems normal.”
On Wednesday, May 23, newsone.com reported that an executive inside Sony’s publicity department, who wished to remain anonymous, declared, “The movie was never planned for release in France.”
However, AmNews staff found out that the movie was initially scheduled to debut in France on May 30, but searching on French theaters’ websites shows no evidence of any future showings.
If this movie is cancelled, it won’t be the first time such a thing occurs in France. Cedric Ido is a rising French actor and director in France as well as in the United States and Africa. A few years ago, his talent was detected by Spike Lee and he was cast in “Miracle at St. Anna,” which gave tribute to African-American soldiers during World War II.
Ido told to the AmNews, “A few weeks before the opening in the theaters, the same story occurred and the movie couldn’t be shown.”
TF1, one of the leading TV channels in France and a powerful broadcasting system, bought the movie and was responsible for distributing it to theaters, but they didn’t.
“They blocked the movie, pretending that the scenario doesn’t correspond to what they thought it was when they decided to buy it,” explained Ido.
After a long trial, TF1 was ordered to give back $32 million to Lee and the American organization that sponsored his movie.
“On TV, cinema or in media in general, the representation of Black people…is hedged. It doesn’t reflect what the society is really. They want us to identify ourselves with the models that they impose on us. That’s why we can sometimes think that we don’t exist,” declared the young actor.
He also added that as an artist, this could make his task harder because he has no reference in a country that he considers his. “Due to this problem of identification, we don’t have any references and are compelled to find our inspirations abroad. That is why most of Black people are likely to imagine their future overseas.”
A few months earlier, Omar Sy became among the very few French Black actors to win at the Cesars with the movie “Intouchables,” which will be in theaters this week in the United States. Said Ido, “This is a step forward,” even though Sy wasn’t the first French Black actor to win a Cesar–there was Isaach de Bankole in 1987. “The problem of representation shouldn’t be drowned.”