Where Was Hollywood for ‘Proud Mary?'

After seeing Proud Mary and writing my initial review, I did some thinking. What happened with Proud Mary? Why wasn’t this movie pushed like others of similar caliber? I came to a conclusion that didn’t surprise me: Hollywood still doesn’t have faith in a mostly-Black cast.

 Courtesy images

Courtesy images

When you look at the landscape, Proud Mary should be an easy sell to audiences all across the country. Hidden Figures (which Taraji P. Henson was amazing in) won numerous awards in 2016 and 2017, Atomic Blonde was a success, and Wonder Woman was the manifestation of feminist power that got women energized to the max. With the #Metoo and #Timesup movements currently at the apex of female empowerment, Proud Mary should have been a walk in the park — a single, successful woman kicking ass and sticking it to the man [err, men], all while showing her emotional strength and not needing to be saved by a male counterpart. Where’d we go wrong? Oh yea, most of the primary characters are Black.

You’d think the studios would be energized to promote a movie with a cast of such caliber — Taraji P. Henson has cemented her spot in our hearts with her roles in Baby Boy, Empire, and Hidden Figures. Billy Brown has a wide range of credits, from How to Get Away with Murder and 2008’s Cloverfield to Adventure Time and Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit. And Danny Glover...do I need to explain this man’s catalog? Between these three, there should be plenty of push from the studios to get this movie out there, but it feel like this movie has been swept under the rug because of how Black the cast list is. This isn’t an odd opinion either. Henson herself expressed similar sentiments in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.


[Studios] never expect [black films] to do well overseas. Meanwhile, you go overseas and what do you see? People trying to look like African-Americans with Afros and dressing in hip-hop fashions. To say that black culture doesn’t sell well overseas, that’s a lie. Somebody just doesn’t want to do their job and promote the film overseas. Do you not have people streaming my Christmas specials in Australia? Come on, y’all! I don’t understand the thinking. Send me over there, and if it fails, then we don’t do it again, but why not try? If I knew this movie was gonna make money domestically, I would try to get more money overseas. It’s business!

I won’t go so far as to say that this is the situation for all of Hollywood — Get Out got solid promotion and Black Panther is breaking records before it even opens. It’s perplexing to see that Proud Mary wasn’t supported like it should have been from the very beginning. The studios behind Henson seemed to leave her holding the bag when it came time to promote the movie, and people took notice.

The writing team completely dropped the ball on this. With a plot like this, you need one of two types of writers: a team with experience in the action/thriller genre or a young team looking to make names for themselves. Proud Mary had neither, instead settling for soap opera skills and a writer with no major credits; neither of whom seemingly hungry for a hit.

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Proud Mary could have been an immersive world with all of the story avenues that were presented but ignored. Mary and Tom used to be a couple — let’s build on that. What was their partnership like? What are their strengths and weaknesses and how did they compliment each other? Did they handle any jobs together? Why did they split apart? Tom is, from what we can tell, the only son and heir-apparent to Benny’s crime family — this could easily be its own movie. The inner conflicts of a son trying to make a name for himself while making the family proud and learning the ropes as “the old man” gets closer to retirement. Did somebody say crime families? There’s a smorgasbord of stories there — get this over to Netflix for an ongoing series. They should probably cut me a check for tossing up the ideas too — or put me on the production team.

Nick Bailey is a forward thinking journalist with a well-rounded skill set including writing, design, and photography. Nick now resides in Austin, TX after earning a degree in Mass Communication with an emphasis on journalism from Texas A&M University—Commerce.