Boots Riley’s recent movie debut, Sorry To Bother You, has quickly proven itself to be one of the most electrifying films in recent memory, a consciously conscious blend of science-fiction, satire, horror, and straight-up weirdness, all bent toward exploring our own complicity in the ways corporate America works to divide and grind us up. It’s also, in terms of movie-making demographics, a proudly “black” movie, featuring not just The Coup’s Riley behind the camera, but a roster of stand-out performances from Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Omari Hardwick, Danny Glover, and more. (Even if nasal white comedians are handling their vocal duties for roughly half the time.)
And that, apparently, is why the film has only managed to land its funny, strange, occasionally deeply upsetting gut punches on American audiences (so far, anyway); as Riley pointed out on Twitter last night, the film is failing to get any traction from international distributors, despite out-performing several films that are getting global releases.
The problem, according to Riley, is that old distribution saw, “International audiences don’t want to see ‘black’ movies.” We’d kind of hoped that the planetary performance of Marvel’s Black Panther—which ended up bringing in more than half a billion dollars at the international box office—might have shaken this old, rotten chestnut loose, but apparently not. Riley is calling on fans of the film to get the word out so that it can be free to run wild across the planet, hopefully knocking free some shitty ideas about film marketability in the process.