Denzel Washington’s name has been brought up in the ongoing story regarding the Sony Pictures hack. The Independent reports that an unnamed producer told Sony chairman Michael Lynton that African Americans are not well received by overseas audiences due to racism.
“I believe that the international motion picture audience is racist – in general pictures with an African American lead don’t play well overseas,” the unnamed producer said in an e-mail.
The producer goes on to praise Washington’s work.
“I am not saying The Equalizer should not have been made or that African American actors should not have been used (I personally think Denzel Washington is the best actor of his generation),” the producer continued. “Casting him is saying we’re okay with a double [baseball term] if the picture works. He’s reliable at the domestic [box office], safe, but has not had a huge success in years. I believe whenever possible the non-event pictures, extra ‘bets’, should have a large inherent upside and be made for the right price. Here there isn’t a large inherent upside.
“But Sony sometimes seems to disregard that a picture must work well internationally to both maximise returns and reduce risk, especially pictures with decent size budgets,” the producer added, saying that a sequel to Washington’s Equalizer would be “a double with a remote chance of a home run.”
The electronic attack on Sony has revealed many details about the company, including a racist exchange about President Barack Obama. The hacks also unveiled some of the company’s plans, including a Kanye West film project.
The Sony hacks were ordered due to the studio’s plans to release The Interview, a $44 million James Franco and Seth Rogen film about the assassination of Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, according to the New York Times. Those hacks and subsequent terrorist threats against theaters have since prompted Sony Pictures to announce the cancellation of the planned Christmas release of the film.