Malcolm X :Controversy

Spike Lee sought to make the film controversial even before the project received a greenlight from Warner Brothers. Initially, Warner Studios wanted Norman Jewison to direct the film. Lee was quite vocal in his opposition to the choice of Jewison, a white filmmaker. Lee felt that X's story had to be told by a black director. Jewison eventually agreed and stepped aside. However, Lee already had a reputation of being a fiercely independent director and his critics didn't hesitate in reiterating his longstanding disdain for Hollywood convention and his surly public nature. Lee also encountered immense difficulty in securing the budget he felt was needed. Lee felt that a budget allowance of $33 million was reasonable; however, Warners balked at the sum and refused to approve any more than $20 million and a running length of 135 minutes. Lee took the battle public and several prominent African-American entertainers responded by donating $11 million more to the project. Lee was then free to complete the film the way he wanted and increase the running length to 195 minutes. Interestingly, Warners did allow for more funds after positive reaction from a viewing of a rough version of the film.


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