There’s no denying it, Marvel’s latest film Black Panther is a sheer juggernaut at the box office. And a big part of the film’s success is due to rapper Kendrick Lamar.
The L.A.-based rapper (his most recent album Damn, won a Grammy) is behind the film’s soundtrack and is making sure as many kids as possible get to see it.
For families on a tight budget, coughing up $15 per movie ticket often isn’t always possible, but thanks to Lamar, around 1,000 underprivileged children will be treated to a private screening of the action flick. Through his record label, Top Dawg Entertainment, Lamar is treating children from the Watts housing project in Los Angeles to five screenings of the movie at area movie theaters.
Lamar isn’t the only celebrity who’s making an effort to make sure that African-American children get a chance to see a superhero who looks like them on the big screen.
Both rapper T.I. and The Shape of Water actress Octavia Spencer have organized outings for children to get a free screening of the movie. A January Instagram post from Spencer announcing showings of the movie in Mississippi read: “Hey Jackson!!! As promised I have purchased screenings of Black Panther this weekend. If you know of families low on funds, please spread the word!”
In the same way Wonder Woman did last year, Black Panther challenges what a superhero can look like, by featuring a black superhero and celebration of African-American culture. The movie had a strong buzz around it for months, and the mostly black cast and black director Ryan Coogler have lived up to the hype, delivering what The New York Times called “a jolt of a movie.”
The couple months following the holiday season are typically a bit of lull for cash cow movies, but that’s hardly the case this time. The movie has so far pulled in $427 million in ticket sales worldwide.
Set within the Marvel universe in an uncolonized fictional country called Wakanda, the movie veers from the stereotypical portrayal of African countries. Wakanda is a thriving country without the influence of colonial white culture. T’Challa, the King of Wakanda who becomes the Black Panther, must defend his throne from a “vengeful outsider.”
The film is based on the 1966 comic book of the same name, and its February release appropriately coincides with Black History Month. Further adding to the buzz around the movie’s celebration of African American culture, many of the movie’s stars turned up to the London premiere in traditional African American dress.
“All the costumes were inspired by different real African cultures and ethnicities, and to me, this film is a celebration of that,” said actress Lupita Nyong’o. “It’s paying homage to the African aesthetic, culture, beauty, and tradition, and giving us a glimpse of a possible future, really.”