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Kathryn Bigelow's "Detroit" Trailer Explodes

Chris here. Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty follow-up, Detroit, has been veiled in almost as much secrecy as that Oscar-winning film, our only snippets of information being that it’s set during the 1967 Detroit riots. The film also has a pretty packed ensemble cast including John Boyega, Jason Mitchell, and John Krasinski (though suspiciously lacking in black female roles). But now we have a first look at what she’s crafted thanks to a tense trailer – and the results are stellar.

Though our mind naturally wanders to Oscar with Bigelow's name and her regular writing partner Mark Boal attached, the film's late summer release (roughly fifty years after the riots) also suggests confidence the film could be aiming to seize the zeitgeist just as we tire of superhero bombast. Though production company Annapurna Pictures has had Oscar success with the likes of American Hustle, Her, and Zero Dark Thirty, this will be their first outing as a distributor. I'm guessing they'll want the cash from making this a hit before betting on a costly Oscar play. However, I'm already rooting for Jason Mitchell's chances this year - he'll also have Dee Rees's Mudbound to keep him in the conversation.

Might Detroit be included in tomorrow's Cannes lineup announcement? Check out the intense trailer below and tell us your thoughts in the comments. Detroit opens August 4!

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Reader Comments (24)

I think you mean 50 years.

April 12, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

thevoid99 - oops thanks. I'm at the age where my brain sometimes still believes we're in the mid-aughts

April 12, 2017 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

Welp this film is already getting a ton of backlash. This is about the Algiers incident, not necessarily the riots. That is perfectly fine, she can choose the Algiers incident if she wants. I think the issue is calling it Detroit, some think it's about the 1967 riots and not one particular incident (Algiers). This is why people are upset about the lack of BW in the film, there were plenty of Black women involved in the Detroit riots. Now in the Algiers incident it involved Black men and 2 White women. The other issue is.... calling it Detroit. Similar to Spike Lee and Chi-Raq, people from Detroit are not happy. Also this was filmed in Boston not Detroit.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is the title of the movie needs to change.

April 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

@Nikki: so I'm guessing you'd also like to change the titles of Fargo or Chinatown then, since they too have not much in common with the events depicted in those movies? ;-)

April 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDieter


Neither of those films were released in the 2000s ;-). We have Social Media now and Some folks are talking about this film like Bigelow completely erased Black women from the Detroit riots. All I'm saying is to avoid some of the backlash the film would benefit from a title change.

April 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

@EBONYMag: …what you can’t do is make a film about Detroit, Black rebellion & erase Black Women! Looking at you, #DetroitMovie… https://t.co/tbY4MdGiPs

@weimingkam: Last retweet - so black women get erased YET AGAIN. Make that another film/tv series where we should make the creators VERY uncomfortable

@AndrayDomise: If so, then Bigelow should damn well have called the film "Algiers Motel" instead of paintbrushing all of Detroit with that narrative.

@AndrayDomise: And I will not be spending a dime to watch a film that combines the white gaze, erasure of Black women activists, and vilifying Detroit.

@taylorlied: .@DetroitMovie Bigelow and Boal should have called the movie "The Algiers Motel incident" instead of Detroit

@TheMikeTre: You're actively choosing ONE narrative with black men and white women at the center, and calling it "Detroit." That's erasure.

@JimmyThaLox: @TheMikeTre @FilmFatale_NYC It was shot in Boston. Money not even coming back to the city the movie takes place in.

@Dinaz247: @KaitlynDever @AnnapurnaPics Putting white woman in the lead role and removing black women from the narrative This… https://t.co/R58vSNzHc0

@Lstblkgrl: There is not enough content including Black women's stories for Bigelow's 'Detroit' to be made. It's fucking erasure.

Like these .....

April 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

This looks really cheesy.

Boyega and Poulter look miscast too.

April 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKat

It's Bigelow so I'm sure it'll be great, but I was expecting a film about the riots told from the pov of the rioters. This isn't that and I'm not sure what this is will be as interesting.

April 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTr

Nikki: Some of those reactions...guys, this is a woman who made a film that, ultimately, painted the fact that the US didn't arrest and try Bin Laden as a VERY BAD THING. She's probably on the side of the civilians in this and the full film will make that more clear. Also: Highly likely that the Algiers Motel is just Act 1 and the start of Act 2 (I'm expecting a ZDT style 2.5-3 hour epic out of this, and that's much too long for a locked room thriller, so, please, don't use the "But it's just the Algiers Motel Incident" as a criticism unless the announced length of the movie is under 2 hours) and the trailer is designed to only show the earlier portions of the film and that we could see some of those black women activists in the full feature. As for not shooting in Detroit? Okay, that one IS an objective problem, but also one that could be easily strongly mitigated by donating a percentage of the earnings to the city.

April 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

You'd think by now people would know not to judge the content of a movie before actually seeing it; the quick-trigger outrage is geting more ridiculous by the day. And I didn't realize that you 're only allowed to shoot a movie in the city that you're trying to depict (even though there WERE scenes shot in Detroit). Could it be possible that Bigleow used the Algiers Motel incident to tell a larger story about the city of Detroit, hence the title?

I'll be watching this despite the "controversy."

April 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

@MDA I'm not sure you understand what the controversy is? If the movie is about the riots as a whole then why are there no prominent roles for Black women, who were involved in the riots? Based on IMDb and trade articles the only Black women that were casted are more than likely extras, etc.

April 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

I do not think you need to see the movie to know who was cast in the film. A quick look at IMDb will tell you that.

April 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike

The lack of representation of Black women in the film especially if the film is about the Detroit Riots as a whole is problematic and I definitely understand the criticism. While a trailer doesn't tell you everything casting does tell you some and from what I can see there are no prominent roles for Black women.

I thought the film was supposed to film in Detroit and Boston as well, but a quick search on filming and Wikipedia shows that the entire film was filmed in Boston. For me it is a bit weird. A film about NYC filmed in Chicago sounds weird. Especially since this was a historical event that happened in Detroit , I find it weird to be filmed in Boston. Imagine if the movie about the Boston marathon was filmed in NYC.

Having said all of that, I am excited to see the film, I do like Bigelow, Boyega and Mitchell.

April 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

@Nikki - my apologies, I did misunderstand the controversy. And on the movie's Wikipedia page under the "filming" section, the first two links mention that there will be scenes shot in Detroit:

"The movie is listed in the Massachusetts Film Office’s current production list, as Detroit, and is expected to continue filming in Massachusetts for the next few weeks before moving to Detroit where Bigelow will film additional exterior scenes."

"The movie, a true-crime drama with a central focus on the Detroit riots of 1967 and the infamous Algiers Motel murder, which took place on July 25, 1967— will also be shot in Detroit."

April 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

Thanks @ MDA, I didn't see that though I did see initial articles saying it would be.

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

I think Bigelow is a genius, so I'm very excited to see this film. I still remember how people who hadn't seen Zero Dark Thirty attributed messages to the film that weren't actually there (including various U.S. Senators and members of the Academy). It's not surprising that it's happening again with Detroit. When you're the first female filmmaker to win a Best Director Oscar, no one will give you the benefit of the doubt.

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Suzanne -- you could easily edit that sentence to just say "female filmmaker no one will give you the benefit of the doubt" and it would be just as true.

everyone -- I'm so exhausted by internet outrage before content is seen. It's so empty. If people want stories with diversity to be told they need to be less quick to attack anyone risking the telling of such stories for perceived slights. I say we wait until we see the film to make any judgments about its quality... particularly since it's coming from a filmmaker who has regularly featured diverse casts and made very good films.

furthermore how can any one story be expected to encompass every story within a giant event within a city of 1.6 million people or so (at the time)

April 13, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I do think that BW have the right to complain about a film that talks about the struggles of race , but it erases Black Women from that struggle. That is problematic, you do not have to see the film to know that the Black women have that were cast were called " Woman in Question #1 and #2. While Bigelow is allowed to make any type of film she wants, then people are allowed to criticize it. Please don't pull that bs oh it's a Female director if it was any other type of director people would still complain and they have that right. John Ridley was criticized for Guerilla a Black male. He excluded Black women from the narrative of his show , that is a problem . How can people not see that? He is getting hounded left and right. There were plenty of BW at the forefront of that movement and none are in sight in the show!??? Same with Bigelow , there were plenty of BW in the Detroit riots, but the focus is on Black men and White women??? How does that make BW feel???

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Nathaniel- Do you know a Black actress that was casted in the film with a prominent role, bc I didn't see any news articles about that?!!

The problem is not the quality of the film the issue is the erasure of Black women from a narrative that involves Black women. The movie is called Detroit so people are expecting it to be about the Detroit riots, which includes Black women. When the cast was announced there was not one Black woman announced. So BW and not just BW, complained. Just like that TV show by Ridley, they put Frieda Pinto's face over Angela Davis's face on the famous poster. That is literally replacing a BW with another WOC which is awful. This isn't some fantasy show, these events actually happened. IT would be like having a film about Women Suffrage and not having a single woman in a prominent role? I sometimes feel like people here are quick to defend, but do not event try to understand the issue is, which is also problematic.

My suggestion was instead of Calling it Detroit, call it something related to the particular incident your story is focused on. Bigelow can focus on whatever she wants, but calling it Detroit sets the expectations that the film is going to be about the riots and if that is the case, why are there no Black women there? If the film is focused on a particular incident i.e. the Algiers then I can understand why there are no prominent roles for Black women.

I feel like this poster from AW said it best

"There will always be some kind of critique on misrepresentation and erasure when you are dealing with stories focusing on (issues related to) marginalized communities and that is part of the burden of representation, given the unbelievably unequal playing field that is mainstream cinema when it comes to who is portrayed on screen. This is practically a fact of life. And it is not unfounded.

Whether particular criticisms of accuracy and focus/scope for a specific film are founded or not, there is also another practical guarantee: that more people are going to try to silence these critiques in a variety of ways, find ways to deem said critiques as irrational or misplaced. When this starts to happen, parties are speaking and shouting past each other and not really engaging in any dialog."


April 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

"John Ridley was criticized for Guerilla a Black male. He excluded Black women from the narrative of his show , that is a problem ."

Yes, he was criticized - after people saw his film. Bigelow is being criticized before anyone has even seen her film, and for reasons we know blatantly inaccurate (e.g., she didn't film in Detroit).

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

@Suzanne people started criticizing him when the trailer was shown. The " it didn't film in Detroit" is the least of its worries. Most of the criticism has to do with Black women not being prominent in the film which you can take a look at IMDB and see that. unless there is some secret cast member that know one knows about.

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

Suzanne- incorrect I've been following this project for a while people started criticizing it when the trailer was shown.

3 people complained about it not being filmed in
Detroit, I love how you point out the criticism that the film is barely getting. Tell me where are the BW in the film since we are all rushing to judgement here? It's ok for other films to be criticized based on trailers, but Bigelow shouldn't be subjected to it . Is that what you are saying? So why even show trailers at all ? Why do a yes no maybe so?

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Again, I'm not saying she should not focus on the Algiers incident. She can and should be allowed to. The problem is the title Detroit and a lot of the summaries before the film started stated that it would be about the Detroit Race Riots of 67. So the expectations based on the information given was that it would be about the Race Riots. So people were expecting it to be about that and Black women were a part of that. Now if the film is focused on the Algiers incident (which is perfectly fine) and not the Race riots as a whole. Then I do think people would understand why there are not Black women in prominent roles. To suggest that we should wait to see the film before judging how many Black women there are in it, is not that strong of an argument bc as I've stated a quick look at IMDB will show you, the information is all there. We should also not pretend that all trailers and films are heavily criticized from super hero movies , horror and drama's' etc. It makes me uncomfortable that people are attacking the criticism of this film and not the criticism of other films, bc I think it has to do with who is doing the complaining.

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

Bigelow is the only director this century to direct back-to-back masterpieces. This outing is a pretty good bet.

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

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