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Spike Lee Explains Why Black Panther’s A Game Changer

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For over 30 years, Spike Lee has been widely regarded as one of the best working American filmmakers, but with the exception of Malcolm X and the occasional stab at mainstream success (Inside Man, Oldboy) he has devoted almost all of his career to modestly-scaled personal projects. According to Lee, the relative lack of epic movies in his filmography has more to do with restrictive industry perceptions of black cinema than personal preference. However, he’s hoping that 2018’s biggest domestic blockbuster changes this.

“For me, the film that changed the game is Black Panther,” he told Screen Rant. “When you’re a black director and trying to get a film made with a studio, the way it always went… was when the line item came to foreign. Historically, they said, ‘Well we can’t give you that much for the budget because historically black films don’t make any money overseas.’”

Of course, there were always movies that challenged this perception. “When Denzel [Washington], Will [Smith], and Sam [Jackson] started selling overseas then they move the goal line further and said, ‘Well, there are stars are in it. If you don’t have any stars in the film, you’re not going to make any foreign,’” Lee explained, noting that this argument definitely can’t be used against Black Panther. “There were no stars in that film—prior to the film… it’s been proven that black folks can travel, you know? And people go see our films. So that’s the next thing.”

In light of this development—and the career-best vitality of Lee’s recent films Chi-Raq and BlacKkKlansman—here’s hoping he secures funding for some of his epic passion projects. In the meantime, you can find a reminder of Black Panther’s massive scale in the trailer below.