‘Black Panther’s’ Grassroots Marketing Movement Is Unlike Any Other Marvel Movie

By Ariana Brockington | February 15, 2018

When SuCh Charles, a 32-year-old singer and songwriter from Denver, saw a trailer for “Black Panther,” she was moved to organize an event to bring together Denver’s black community. She said that while it’s not a large population, comprising just 2.3% of all residents, it was important to show up in force for the first Marvel movie to feature a black protagonist.

The screening she organized is just one of hundreds of grassroots events across the country being organized by black filmgoers to celebrate the Feb. 16 opening of the historic film and give kids a chance to see it in theaters.

“I needed to do something in which it brings the community together, especially in the political times that we’re in,” Charles said. “We’re always fighting, and there’s not as much a celebration of things, but here we are with something that we’re able to celebrate, something for a joyous moment.”

Charles approached Alamo Drafthouse about renting a single room for a screening, but demand was so high, it has since expanded to three screens.

She emphasizes the importance of a film like “Black Panther” by pointing to her son, who will turn 7 the day the movie bows. “It really hits home for me,” she said, describing the impact John Boyega’s Star Wars character, Finn, had on her son, who was thrilled to see someone who had hair like his in a major Hollywood production.

“It’s so good for children to be able to see this,” she said.  Passion for the film has spurred widespread fundraising efforts. Frederick Joseph, a marketing consultant from New York City, recently created the #BlackPantherChallenge with the aim of raising $10,000 through a GoFundMe page to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem. Within days, he had surpassed the goal, raising more than $40,000. The hashtag took off on social media.

Now there are over 200 campaigns, including in cities like Toronto, London and Ghana, he said. The campaign has attracted the attention of celebrities like Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis. Spencer  wrote on Instagram that she would rent out a theater in Mississippi so underprivileged children could see the movie on the big screen. Davis lent her voice to a fundraiser in Austin, which just recently raised the entire $4,000 to send 200 kids to see the movie.

“The focus is on kids because kids are extremely impressionable,” Joseph said. “With the current landscape that we’re in, culturally and politically, it’s never been more important in the modern era to combat some of these negative entities, especially for kids of color, and young LGBTQ kids, and women.”

Dominique Jones, executive director of the Harlem Boys and Girls Club, said that because of Joseph’s fundraising, they’ll be able to take about 400 kids to see the film in New York.

“Being engaged with positive media is important,” she said. “For them to not only be entertained, but the messages and themes reinforce what we’re doing here at the club.”

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