NEW YORK – For Michael B. Jordan, timing is everything. So when the SAG award winner marched in a Los Angeles Black Lives Matter protest last month demanding that Hollywood drastically increase its diversity in the executive ranks, it was a moment he felt prepared for.
’I think it’s always been brewing in me, but I think timing is everything, you know? I mean, who knew that we was going to be in this pandemic? And on the heels of that, another senseless murder by law enforcement,” said the 33-year-old “Just Mercy” star. “I’ve always chosen to be very strategic in wanting to speak when it really makes an impact and really matters…And I want to work and evolve and grow with people who feel that same sense of urgency.”
Jordan, whose breakout “Fruitvale Station” role followed the events of a young Black man killed by an Oakland transit police officer, channeled the urgency for change — and healing — into “A Night at the Drive-In.” The goal is to celebrate “multi-cultural and diverse voices in cinema, in hopes of ultimately bringing together communities.” Jordan and his Outlier Society production company— who hand-picked the movies — is partnering with Amazon Studios.
Films show every other Wednesday through Aug. 26 and include blockbusters such as “Crazy Rich Asians” and Jordan’s own “Black Panther,” along with classics like “Do the Right Thing” and “Coming to America.” The screenings will show in 20 cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Houston, as well as smaller towns such as Savannah, Georgia, Augusta-Aiken, South Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee.
Attendance is free, with most moviegoers chosen by local community organizations and nonprofits. The initiative is also raising voter registration awareness.
“We wanted to find a way for us to (show) stories that fed our soul, that inspired us, that made us laugh,” Jordan said. “We wanted to give people an opportunity to find relatability through cinema, and we were able to put together a pretty eclectic list of some old favorites and some newer films that kind of checked off all those boxes.”
Outlier Society and Amazon Studios also partnered with Path Water, Pipcorn Popcorn and Partake Cookies — all owned by people of color — to provide free refreshments during the double- feature programs.
Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said the partnership falls into the company’s efforts to support social justice initiatives.