Will Smith Was Behind The Success Of ‘ATL’ Starring T.I. and Lauren London
T.I. may be a talented rapper but he’s also beloved for his acting, most notably in his film debut ATL. The film is one of the most popular among hip hop audiences and fans are eager for its follow up. T.I.’s co-star in ATL recently revealed that Will Smith is to be credited for the success of the film.
Will Smith served as an executive producer on ‘ATL’ and made sure the film was in as many theaters as possible
ATL is a 2006 comedy-drama film. The film is loosely based on the lives of superproducer Dallas Austin and TLC frontrunner T-Boz. The movie is a coming-of-age story about Rashad (T.I.) and his friends in their final year of high school. It’s also a love story, with Lauren London starring as T.I.’s love interest.
The film is star-studded. Aise from T.I. and London, the film also stars Big Boi from OutKast, Evan Ross, Jason Weaver, and Jackie Long.
As it turns out, the success of the film was not solely due to its alluring cast. Weaver, who starred as T.I.’s on-screen friend, revealed during the Talk2pops podcast that Smith as an executive producer helped the film in terms of studio placement and eventual success in theaters nationwide.
“They [the studio] were trying to give us like a limited release, a limited screen release, which is what they do with a lot of Black films in Hollywood and what that does, it doesn’t put you on an even level playing field [for box office revenue or press] where you can actually compete because you’re not in the same amount of theaters,” he explained.
Weaver went onto explain that films with a limited release, despite its critical acclaim or fan reactions, almost never make it to the No. 1 spot at the box office opening weekend due to not being available at the maximum number of theaters. Smith refused the studio’s offer and demanded that ATL be screened in as many theaters available.
“With Will and his production company, they fought tooth and nail to make sure that we were at least in the same amount of theaters as ‘Ice Age 2,’ which I think was out at the time,” Weaver continued.
How well did ‘ATL’ do in theaters?
ATL received generally favorable reviews from critics. For its opening weekend, it ranked third. But Weaver says the film could have opened at No. 1 if the movie was available nationwide, as opposed to just over 1600 theaters in the U.S.
“We could have possibly taken the No. 1 spot because in every theater that we were in…as the same as ‘Ice Age,’ we scored higher than them, we made more money than them,” he said.
With a budget of just $7 million, ATL tripled, bringing in over $21 million throughout its run. The film also won an award at the BET Hip Hop Awards in 2006.
ATL became a cult classic, launching London’s career as an actress. T.I. has confirmed that a sequel is in the works.