“Black Panther” was widely heralded as a game-changing blockbuster when it opened in February to record-breaking box office and rave reviews. The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first black superhero film starred a predominantly black cast and was directed by Ryan Coogler, Marvel’s first black director, but not everyone sees the film’s success as an industry breakthrough. Rapper and business mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs appears on Variety’s latest cover, and he refers to “Black Panther” in his accompanying interview as a “cruel experiment.”
“‘Black Panther’ was a cruel experiment because we live in 2018,” Diddy said, “and it’s the first time that the film industry gave us a fair playing field on a worldwide blockbuster, and the hundreds of millions it takes to make it.”
Diddy views “Black Panther” more as a small baby step to inclusion than an outright game-changer. He told Variety that all industries have the same issue of letting black men and women hold top-level positions, even when black employees have been able to make their respective companies millions of dollars. For this reason, the billion-dollar success of “Black Panther” isn’t enough of a sign to Diddy that Hollywood is on its way to major change.
“For all the billions of dollars that these black executives have been able to make them, [there’s still hesitation] to put them in the top-level positions,” Diddy said of industries at large. “They’ll go and they’ll recruit cats from overseas. It makes sense to give [executives of color] a chance and embrace the evolution, instead of it being that we can only make it to president, senior VP. … There’s no black CEO of a major record company. That’s just as bad as the fact that there are no [black] majority owners in the NFL. That’s what really motivates me.”
Diddy continued by saying the success of “Black Panther” did not surprise him. He maintained that when black creators are given the proper resources in any industry, they always “over-deliver.”
“You can’t do anything without that money, without resources,” Diddy told Variety. “But when we do get the resources, we over-deliver. When Adidas invests in Kanye and it’s done properly, you have the right results. When Live Nation invests in artists and puts them in arenas the same way U2 would be, you have the right results. ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Black-ish,’ fashion; it’s all about access. If you’re blocked out of the resources, you can’t compete. And that’s my whole thing — to be able to come and compete.”
“Black Panther” is currently the highest grossing superhero film in the U.S. with $699 million. The film is expected to be a rare Oscar contender for the superhero genre early next year. Head over to Variety to read Diddy’s full cover story.