Lack of minorities in major movie roles?

September 1, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
It has been a record-setting summer movie season. The Dark Knight slipped into the number two spot on the all-time money list and the summertime box office brought in $4.2 billion, an all-time high. But one major screenwriter still feels Hollywood was out of step this summer.

"The Dark Knight" towers over everything. It has made $500 million, passing "Star Wars" to rank number two on the all-time domestic revenue list behind "Titanic."

Coming in second this summer is "Iron Man" which did more than $317 million. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" takes the number three spot with more than $315 million.

Meanwhile, "Tropic Thunder" is number one at the box office for the third week in a row.

These action-adventure film share big box office revenues, but they also have something else in common -- the lack of minorities in major roles. One Hollywood writer/producer/director says they are not getting respect on the big screen.

"You really kind of wonder what's going on in Hollywood and if they're really paying attention to what's happening in the rest of the world," says John Ridley who is writing the script for George Lucas' film about the Tuskeegee airmen.

There are exceptions. Will Smith starred in "Hancock" which is summer's fourth biggest film at $226 million.

"You're happy to see him do a big budget version of a superhero, but he's the cranky foul-mouth superhero who spends time in prison," says Ridley.

Ridley says he liked Robert Downey, Jr. in "Tropic Thunder" because what he says about race was funny.

Ridley wants Hollywood to look at minorities as simply people.

"It's just getting into the habit of doing it on a regular basis," says Ridley.

This follows the dust up in Sacramento about a free screening of the 1961 classic, "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Asian-American groups called the film racist because of Mickey Rooney's portrayal of a Japanese man.

The vice mayor originally planned to edit out Rooney's scenes, but finally canceled the showing. In its place the audience got "Ratatouille," from our parent company, Disney.


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