"DOPE" is 1 of just 14 films starring actors of color in main roles this summer
Dope, the coming-of-age-story of a straight-A student in impoverished Inglewood, California, is one of just 14 films starring actors of color in main roles this summer. It’s also one of only four films that feature more than a single black or Hispanic actor as a principal character.
Released nationwide mid-June, Dope has grossed $14.3 million across 2,000 theatres
– not bad for a small-budget indie. Written and directed by little-known Rick Famuyiwa, the project debuted to rave reviews at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, with critics particularly praising the breakout performance of Shameik Moore as geeky lead Malcolm.
Financed with private equity through Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions, the movie was co-produced by Significant Productions and Pharrell’s i am Other, in association with Diddy’s Revolt Films. (Pharrell wrote four original songs to the soundtrack, which are played by Moore and his band in the movie.)
Though the film is far from a box office force, its spot on the summer slate could not be more significant. Of the 52 live-action movies released between the beginning of June and end of August, Dope is in the 8% of films that feature more than one principal of color, along with Straight Outta Compton, Fantastic Four and Magic Mike XXL. A stunning 73% of this summer’s films do not feature a single actor of color as a main character.
Among the biggest roles for actors of color this summer: RJ Cyler in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Justice Smith in Paper Towns and Forest Whitaker in Southpaw. Far more black than Hispanic actors appear to have been cast, with the only other one main characters of color in Wild Horses (Adriana Barraza), American Ultra (John Leguizamo), Ted 2 (Morgan Freeman), Jurassic World (Omar Sy), Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (Ving Rhames), The Vatican Tapes (Djimon Hinsou) and Ricki and the Flash (Audra McDonald). Several other films such as Spy, Terminator: Gensisys and Mastermind feature very minor characters of color, but these roles did not impact the movie’s plot enough to warrant inclusion.