Originally slated for development as a script for HBO, Amma Asante’s second directorial project, “Belle,” managed to defy the odds and attract Fox Searchlight as a distributor to showcase the film on a major platform.
Inspired by true events and starring Hollywood newcomer Gugu Mbatha-Raw, "Belle" tells the story of a mixed-race woman, Dido Elizabeth Belle, who was raised in British aristocracy. And despite the period drama taking place during the 18th century, Asante was adamant on interjecting “contemporary resonance,” into the film in an effort to connect with theatergoers.
“I worked from my bedroom in Holland trying to fit these thoughts and feelings on paper, and then suddenly you have this movie that’s out there and people are connecting and engaging with the movie particularly in America,” the British filmmaker recently told The Huffington Post.
“That goes particularly for African Americans to embrace this movie in a way that you can’t imagine that they are going to connect and love the movie…And so, it has given me confidence for the future and for my next movie that I can tell stories that will connect to audiences.”
Since its limited opening on May 2, “Belle” has grossed $10.6 million domestically to date, according to Box Office Mojo. Despite, the project’s lackluster ticket sales, the film adds Asante’s name to the growing list of British talent making waves in Hollywood, including Steve McQueen and Idris Elba, who she admires.
“I knew Idris Elba as a young man growing up in England,” she recalled. “And I’m so proud for watching his growth and his journey out here in the states. He was always talented. I would have never imagined myself following in his footsteps and doing anything quite similar. So it’s a great sense of pride.”
As for her thoughts on possibly working with the Golden Globe award-winner, she added; “I have to get a hold of Idris, because every time I see Idris he’s like, ‘Oh, you did Belle? Oh, I didn’t realize.’ I’m like, ‘Idris, every time I see you, you say that.’ So, I would love to do something with Idris. He is such an incredible talent. Like I said, I knew him when he was in his 20s, and I’m just glad that the world gets to see it today.”
“Belle” is now available on Digital HD, and on Blu-Ray DVD on Aug. 26.