You know that feeling you get when you watch classic black movies from the 80s, 90s and 2000s?Media innovator and tech wiz Mark Luckie wants to bring those movies and that feeling back to the theaters — with some soul food on the menu.
Luckie has co-founded the newly launched “Souled Out Cinema,” a project hoping to capture and cash in on audience’s love for black films like Waiting to Exhale, Coming to America and Soul Food.
“If you fast-foward to 2016, you’re not seeing a lot of these movies,” Luckie told theGrio.com in an interview. “They’re starting to creep up now, but we’re missing a lot of movies that are representing African-American lives.”
For now, the plan is to present the movies in 12 cities: Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Houston, Baltimore, New Orleans, Oakland, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami. The ultimate goal is to expand to other cities in the U.S.
As you’re enjoying the movies, you will be served specialties like peach cobbler, seasoned fries and chicken wings.
“We’re also in an age of nostalgia where people who watch these movies — they’re taken back to a time where things were much more positive, more carefree,” Luckie said.
Luckie decided he wanted to create a place where African-Americans can come together in a positive space, especially given today’s increasingly divisive climate.
“I think movies are a perfect way to do that,” Luckie said. “In the age of Black Lives Matter, having a space where people can have something positive, that’s something that we really wanted to shoot for and do it in my own way. ”
There are places where people can go to watch classic films, whether at older cinemas, dine-in’s or one of America’s favorite past-times — drive-in movies. But Luckie says there are no cinemas like his that offer African-American films exclusively.
“These folks are offering big budget blockbusters,” Luckie notes. “Nobody’s really doing classic black cinema; there are a few that are doing classic films exclusively focused on movies that black people love, and not only are we doing that — it’s not going to be your average run of the mill food, it’s going to be the foods that we all love.”
Luckie previously served as the Manager of Journalism and Media for Twitter from 2012-2015. He then joined Reddit earlier this year in a similar role but ultimately left in less than a year to create Souled Out Cinema with four other people.
The idea was partly inspired by Magic Johnson Theaters.
“For me, innovation was taking it back, going to the movies,” he said. ” I grew up in South Central LA and we had a Magic Johnson Theater right around the corner from me. I remember that experience … and so that was my formative cinema experience, so you can say that Souled Out Cinema is the next evolution of that.”
The movies will be played in two or three smaller theaters and will support local businesses. The goal is to also give moviegoers the old Hollywood feel while enjoying a black film. As far as how the team choose the movies, it had nothing to do with their box office ratings; instead, the team voted from a selection of 45 different black films.
“Can black people quote this movie” was a key question and determining factor if the movie made the final cut. Luckie and his team saw no need to focus on movies that were recently made.
“We’re focusing what’s already a hit,” Luckie said. “Most importantly, there aren’t going to be any slave movies, any magical negro movies — I’m going to do things that are true to life.”
To make Souled a reality, the founders have launched a Kickstarter campaign with an ambitious goal to raise $75,000 by mid-November.
To find out more information on Souled Out Cinema, visit their website.
Ashantai Hathaway is a reporter at theGrio. Keep up with her on Twitter @ashantaih83.