I cannot believe this movie is 30-years-old and we are STILL dealing with this crap today! ~ Vida
As the racial drama turns 30 this year, the team behind the groundbreaking $6.5 million film looks back at the turbulent debate over its divisiveness and the rejected ending that Paramount executives had sought: “I said, ‘Hell, no f***ing way.'”
Universal is pulling out all the stops for the 30th anniversary of the release of Spike Lee’s masterpiece Do the Right Thing, bringing the new 4K restoration of the lauded racial drama to theaters on Friday and to select one-day only showings on Sunday, June 30, the actual day of its limited release in 1989.
But 30 years ago this month, Universal was being pressured not to release the film, or at least push the pic back out of the summer months for fear of racial unrest. “Tom Pollock, the president of Universal Pictures, was 100 percent behind the film,” director Spike Lee recalls. “Universal was not afraid.”
Adds Lee, “People forget that Tom Pollock had just went through hell with Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ when he received death threats. So, he could have easily said to me, ‘Spike, I can’t put my family through this again.’ He didn’t do that. Tom Pollock was not scared at all.”
As the drama hits its three-decade anniversary, The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Lee, as well as editor Barry Alexander Brown, cinematographer Ernest Dickerson, costume designer Ruth E. Carter and actors Joie Lee, Richard Edson and Steve Park, about Do The Right Thing’s visceral relevance to political debate in 2019 and the fearmongering that met the film before its release.
Several New York film critics, Lee claims, fanned the flames of racial divide with their first takes. “The atmosphere was sparked by the racist reviews of David Denby, Joe Klein and Jack Kroll. These reviews were absolute racism. Racism. Blood was going to be on my hands. ‘Spike Lee is playing with dynamite.’ The film would spark riots,” the filmmaker says.