Hollywood Strikes Stop Celebrities from Marketing Their Films

A-list African American actress Tiffany Haddish was ready for an outstanding summer at the box office with the nationwide theatrical release of the movies "Back on the Strip" and "Landscape with Invisible Hand".

Unfortunately, both of Haddish's projects significantly underachieved in theaters, mainly because she couldn't market the films.

This leading comedian, along with other Black creators in the field, nonetheless stayed faithfully committed to the extended labor disagreement between striking Hollywood workers and large studios.

"Back on the Strip" was put together by an all-Black team led by director Chris Spencer and backed by companies Lumonosity, GVN, and 5120 Entertainment. It opened on August 18 but failed to take off as its star-studded African American cast, including Haddish, Wesley Snipes, JB Smoove, Bill Bellamy, and Faizon Love, couldn't advertise it due to the strike.

The film portrays the adventures of a team of "over-the-hill" black male exotic dancers who reconnect with their former selves when a gifted young star with an enormous... amount of talent joins their ranks.

Having been produced, financed, marketed, and distributed independently, "Back on the Strip" had a temporary accord with SAG/AFTRA to proceed with the film, but it still didn't win over its cast, who will be financially affected by the film's poor performance.

Black movie producers now face the challenge of reaching audiences using grassroots advertising efforts and focusing on women aged 35 and above with catchphrases like "Grab your girls!" and "Go big or go home!"

"Back on the Strip", though, appeals to adults of all demographics, weaving a romantic tale into a male stripper reunion that some are calling Snipes' triumphant return to the big screen.

A clever promotional strategy amid the continuing labor conflict managed to spark some excitement, but even a packed Laugh Factory in Hollywood in the days leading up to the premiere of "Back on the Strip," with many cast members performing stand-up, failed to mention the film.

Haddish, at least, arrived at the comedy club in a decorated "Back on the Strip" convertible, gleaming and impossible to miss. 

An impressive marketing stunt, to be sure, but like many Black actors and actresses struggling to find a way to connect with their audiences this summer, Haddish can't comment on it.

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(Posted February 10, 2012)

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