Friday, July 8, 2011
When media outlets initially revealed the reported budget of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, it came as an apocalyptic shock to rival anything depicted in the film itself. The price tag was a then unthinkable 100 million dollars. Any blockbuster of the time considered itself lucky to cross the century mark at domestic box office, so to actually spend that much money to make a film seemed insane. Add to that the fact that Cameron was just coming off of the mixed reception to his expensive underwater sci-fi opus The Abyss, and the whole endeavor seemed a recipe for disaster. Here was a sequel to an incredibly well received yet undeniably modest success that didn’t seem to have much mass appeal. As came to be the norm for most of Cameron’s productions from that point on, he knew better than his detractors.
1991 proved to be a landmark year for black cinema. New Jack City was released to both controversy and enthusiasm. It reintroduced black exploitation to a new generation under the guise of a feature length anti-drug PSA. It also became the highest grossing black film of all time up until that point. Spike Lee kept his as yet unbroken winning streak going full bore with Jungle Fever. As the summer movie season got underway, audiences the world over were enthralled with liquid metal spectacle of James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day. While the masses were being distracted by Cameron’s technical wizardry, an unknown filmmaker from Los Angeles offered them an as yet unacknowledged side of African American life.