“Superfly is timeless. It’s the definition of cool,” said Director X — that is the name he has gone by since emerging as a top video director — as he introduced the Superfly portion of Sony’s slate presentation at the 8th annual CinemaCon. The filmmaker transplanted the 1972 Harlem origins of the original, to a contemporary tale set in Atlanta. X has said that while Harlem was the epicenter of black culture in that counterculture period, Atlanta has emerged as a similar contemporary catalyst. “One thing has remained,” X said. “The hustle.”
Speaking with Deadline before the presentation, X said he decided to make Superfly his first studio feature because he felt it was “classic material.” He tried to inject that core into the new movie. “If you know the original Superfly, you’re going to see your favorite characters. They’re not going to have the exact same thing happen to them but you can see it’s inspired by the original film.”
Before this film, X was largely known for his work as a music video director with a distinct colorful and slick visual style, which from the clip that was shown during the presentation, was incorporated into his film. He’s worked with high profile artists which include The Wanted, Usher, Kanye West, Jay-Z, David Guetta, Justin Bieber, Drake, Nicki Minaj, One Direction, and Rihanna.
Gordon Parks Jr directed the original, and Ron O’Neal played the title character, a New York City drug dealer looking to make the score that will get him out of the game, while at the same sticking it to the corrupt cops who are hounding him. It is a touchstone film of the blaxploitation era, a period that is often criticized for its stereotypical portrayal of Black culture. That stigma wasn’t a crutch for the director. “I come from stigma filmmaking,” said X. “I make music videos where it’s always lesser. I don’t care. I’m not concerned with what people think about what we’re doing.”
He decided to steer clear of overarching political or social commentary. “This is an action film,” he assured. “We’re light on moral lessons.”
Simply put: “We wanted to make a Black film that’s fun… it’s an escape with melanin.”
Superfly opens in theaters June 15.