Every so often, a movie comes along that makes you stop and consider life, love, and humanity. The movie 12 Years a Slave is one of those. It was released to limited markets on October 18th. And then was released to several more major cities October 26th. It will open to theaters everywhere on November 1st.
From the start, Fox Searchlight was confident that “12 Years a Slave” would win critical acclaim and be an awards contender.
But building an audience despite the graphic depictions in the movie? The film’s distributor feared that would be a different story.
The new movie shows the evils of slavery in painful and unflinching ways. Not for the faint of heart, but yet important for nearly everyone to experience. Many people go to the movies for a couple of hours of escapism; “12 Years a Slave” is anything but.
British director Steve McQueen has stated that he “has no intention of making audiences the slightest bit comfortable with this terrible story” of a free black man kidnapped and enslaved in Louisiana.
Recognizing the challenges of the material, the studio marketing team has taken a series of steps aimed at getting mainstream audiences to give the film a chance.
Hoping to position the film as uplifting, Fox Searchlight has crafted advertisements emphasizing the slave’s determination and humanity, and is touting endorsements from influential African American entertainers Kanye West and Sean “Diddy” Combs.
Interested in reading the original 12 Years a Slave Book? Click here to learn more about the movie and getting the book that the movie is based on.
“We’re aware of it,” Steve Gilula, Fox Searchlight’s other co-president, said of concerns that the film could be perceived as far too challenging for moviegoers to get in the theaters. “Our focus is making it successful and getting people into movie theaters.”