Marshall one of the best films released this year, opened October 13 in 821 theaters. Yet, the film Happy Death Day, released the same day opened in 3,149.
This begs the question, why release a film when a studio has such low expectations? On the heels of receiving eight NAACP Image Award nominations and a Grammy nomination, Open Road Films brought the critically acclaimed film back to theaters nationwide on December 1st.
In an interview with director Reginald Hudlin, he was asked if he had problems getting the film made.
“Oh yeah!” he exclaimed. “I mean we basically could not get any movie studio to finance it. So we ended up getting the financing from China, believe it or not. Thank God!”
“Here’s the reality,” Hudlin went on to say, “I mean the crazy part of that is I’ve been making movies for a long time now and in my entire career they say Black films don’t travel. No one in Asia cares about your story and what’s going on. Then all of sudden, they’re the people who financed the movie.”
How much of Marshall’s incredible story is real?
Well that’s the thing. You have to embrace the hard truth. Like when the prosecutor says, ‘He’s like a panther,’ and Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther, 42,) goes, ‘That’s a little over the top,’ you have to go with it because that’s what he said.
How do you reconcile what happened back there at that time and what’s happening today?
I like that it was set in that time because if we don’t remember our past, we’re doomed to repeat it. And I like the fact that it was set in Connecticut, because northern racism kind of gets a pass. Everybody is used to the southern rednecks chewing tobacco kind. We’re all comfortable with condemning those people. But Northern racism is the same institutional racism. You can’t simply write it off as back then.
What does this movie mean to you?
I always thought that Thurgood Marshall was one of the most under-rated American heroes and should be added to Mt. Rushmore. Freedom isn’t free. What the movie says is we can win. It’s very easy to feel depressed. It’s very easy to feel like, oh it’s too overwhelming and they’ve got the numbers. If we’re strong and if we’re smart, we can win.
Thurgood and Trayvon Martin lived in different centuries. Why throw in Trayvon’s parents?
When I thought about the Martin family, I said ‘this brings it into the now,’ because whenever they kill someone who turns out to have been innocent they go, ‘he was no angel…’ I just wanted people to think about what it was back then and how it is now. Now what are you going to do? That’s when the song ‘Stands Up for Something’ is introduced.
Marshall is based on an early trial in the career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, also stars Sterling K. Brown, Kate Hudson, and Josh Gad.