Think Like a Man Is Too Black For France

Illustration for article titled Think Like a Man Is Too Black For France

Romantic comedy Think Like A Man — which has made a whopping $85 million at the box office in this country, more than seven times its budget — will not open in France. This despite the fact that the flick was the number one movie here in the U.S. two weeks in a row, and in the top 3 at the box office for one solid month.


According to a post by Fabienne Flessel at Global Voices, a NegroNews Facebook post republished on Martinican blog People Bo Kay offers this as explanation:

Black actor and producer Tyler Perry's movies are never scheduled in any French movie theaters or are only released in DVDs, even though he has been used to leading the US box-office, as with ‘Why did I get Married' and ‘For Colored Girls'. The French society acts hypocritically, when it refuses to show movies from black producers who earn millions from conveying a positive message to the African diaspora through their films.

Films about African-American people often have a tough time at foreign box offices; the flicks that do well in a global scale are epic fantasy adventures, like Avatar, Titanic, Harry Potter and The Avengers. But do we even really know how the box office would respond to flicks with black people in them, if these films never get screened? The first rule of screenwriting is that if it's personal, it's universal. And even if the premise of Think Like A Man is loathsome, the themes and characters — mama's boys, underachievers, take-charge ladies, lazy dudes and players looking for love — are relatable. The emotions and situations are recognizable if you are human; the country you come from shouldn't matter. An apartment-dweller in New York can enjoy a movie about nomads in Mongolia who live in a yurt. What's more, seeing a movie like Think Like A Man in the theaters — surrounded by laughter — is art of the appeal.

Of course, in this case, it is unclear if the move is financial or if there's something else at work; the NegroNews note also reads:

The French state has had a sociopolitical strategy which favors interracial relationships rather than valuing communities. In the comedy ‘Think like a Man', the focus is on black couples.

Why 'Think Like a Man' Won't Open in France [The Root]
Martinique: "Think Like A Man", Just Not in France [Global Voices]
La France ne veut pas de couples noirs au cinéma! [People Bo Kay]



There are a lot of American movies that never get a European release. And there's even more European movies that never ever get shown in the US (subtitles! If I want to read, I'll take a book!).

Easy A was never released in a lot of European countries, simply because Emma Stone, who carried pretty much of that movie, was a complete unknown - ie won't pull the masses to the cinema.

In this case, I don 't think there is anything sinister going on, I think it has more to do with the fact that Tyler Perry movies aren't very great to start with, combined with the fact that most actors are complete unknowns to a French audience - ie this movie will lose money. Some things just don't translate.

ETA I don't mean to say that French films are superior - they make enough horribly cheesy rom-coms themselves.