Best Man Holiday

Sequel shows hunger for movies targeted to African-American aud

Christmas is coming early for Universal’s “The Best Man Holiday.”

Malcolm D. Lee’s comedy sequel, made for only $17 million, should take in over $30 million at the box office this weekend, wildly exceeding expectations for the Universal film, which were originally pegged in the mid-to-high teens.

Some observers think “Best Man” could top $35 million by Sunday, putting the pic just behind Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” ($37 million) and making it the largest opening for an African-American film since last year’s “Think Like a Man” ($33 million).

Arriving 15 years after the original comedy, “Best Man Holiday” reunites Lee with all of the original cast members, including Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Monica Calhoun and Melissa De Sousa.

The box office performance also sends a message to Hollywood: Make more black movies.

Despite Hollywood’s reluctance to produce African-American films (one reason is their lack of overseas acceptance), black audiences are enthusiastic about franchises like Tyler Perry’s “Madea” franchise and films like the Weinstein Company’s recent success, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

And yet only a few African American movies are actually given the opportunity to test the market.

“If studios are willing to spend the money to build awareness for black movie stars and directors, black American film culture will travel,” producer Stephanie Allain (“Hustle & Flow”) recently told the New York Times.

Fox Searchlight is hoping audiences remain strong this Thanksgiving when it releases the musical drama “Black Nativity,” starring Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson.

Based on the Langston Hughes play, “Black Nativity” opens nationwide Nov. 27.

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