About the Film
When Director X, one of the most acclaimed visual artists in music videos and
helmer for such stars as Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Rihanna, rewatched the 1970s
classic Super Fly with an eye toward bringing it to a new generation, he was
struck by how the film's motifs have become part of the culture writ large. "We
live in the age of hip-hop artists like 50 Cent, Jay Z, Gucci Mane, T.I., Migos,
Rick Ross who have lived this 'Superfly' life," he says. "They wanted that
dream. They came from circumstances where they didn't feel they had a lot of
options, so they went this way" - meaning, he says, a life on the wrong side of
the law. "They did that because they wanted to live the American dream. So even
when they got a chance to let that be in their past, it came out in their music
- the music we hear all the time. We hear these references, we hear this world.
This story, right now, is very relevant to the culture."
Prolific film producer Joel Silver approached X to put his stylish spin on the
story. X was enthused to work with the producer, whose catalog of films has
earned more than $14 billion in worldwide revenue - and also includes two films
that inspired X to become a filmmaker. "One of the first movies that Joel worked
on was The Warriors, which is a landmark film in hip-hop culture and one of my
favorite movies. Later, he produced The Matrix, again, one of my favorites and a
movie that showed that how you tell a story can be as important as the plot. So
I was thrilled to be working with him - I knew he'd bring a great sense of
theatricality to the movie."
For Silver, X was the right choice for this Superfly remix, partly because the
director's sense of style is so different from the original film's. "Super Fly
had a very down and dirty look and feel while Director X has a very stylized,
hyper real approach," says Silver. "His work with color, texture, design and
cinematography is so inventive and original."
Because the film would have an original look, the filmmakers decided they could
ground the story in the familiar. "When Joel and I were talking about where we
were going take it, we decided pretty quickly we were really going to base it on
the original," says X. "I'm a source material guy. I don't want you to change
too much but I do want to see it progress. I wanted to see the hip-hop remix of
And making the hip-hop remix of Super Fly meant that this Superfly could build
on the lasting legacy of the first film: the legendary soundtrack by Curtis
Mayfield. The soundtrack went to #1, bolstered by the hit title track as well as
"Freddie's Dead" and "Pusherman," and is now regarded as one of the greatest
albums of all time. For the new film, X and Silver would team with hip-hop
superstar Future, who would not only cultivate a soundtrack of trap beats and
original songs but also join Silver as a producer of the film.
"I wanted the film to have a very real Atlanta sound - a wide breadth of artists
that combine behind a singular musical vision. I also wanted it to have great
resonance beyond the movie. The list of people who cross through all of these
artists and can bring them together to sound like something cohesive and
contemporary is extremely short - so when we hit on Future, it was a great thing
that he was as into the idea as I was," says X.
"I grew up listening to Curtis Mayfield," says Future. "He's definitely one of
the biggest influences on my music. So when X called me up and asked if I wanted
to be a part of this... I was definitely excited to put my spin on it."
"I've known X forever - I don't even know how many videos we've done together.
So the idea of putting him together on a project with Future seemed like magic
to me," says Sylvia Rhone, President of Epic Records. "I'm always so excited by
what can happen in collaborations, and Superfly seemed like a great chance for
two artists to create something special. This soundtrack is the sound of Atlanta
right now - not just as a solo project, but also by Future bringing others into
the studio with him."
In spearheading the remake, Silver had his eye on the original film for years,
recognizing it as the type of material that would resonate with a modern
audience. "Super Fly always stood out as a special and unique film and I've
always had an eye towards doing something modern with it," he says.
To achieve that, Silver approached and won the confidence of Steven R. Shore,
the son of Sig Shore, who produced the original Super Fly. Respectful of his
father's legacy and the film he produced, for many years Shore declined
opportunities for a Super Fly remake - until Joel Silver called. "Joel reminds
me of my dad in some ways - he's part of the old breed, a two-fisted producer
working hands on. That was how my dad operated and I loved watching Joel work,"
Boarding the film as an executive producer, Shore says that the new film
captures the elements that made Super Fly resonate while also bringing it
confidently and stylishly into the 21st century. "Joel had passion for the
project and understood it," says Shore. "He expressed the same things my dad did
- not only was it a classic 'one last job' movie, but it felt like the time was
right. In 1974, we had a corrupt president being chased out of office. Joel
noted that we have a similarly charged political environment today, and his
instincts were right on - that's why it makes sense to revisit Super Fly."
Super Fly is a touchstone film in black film history, as X notes - and the
director was inspired to put his own spin on that story. "As we look back now,
these are really the first films in which black characters were independent,
powerful, and had a modicum of control over their own lives. I think most people
see the Priest character as a proud black man taking charge of his own life and
owning his choices in a powerful way. With this film, I'm honoring the lineage
of an iconic title that the community has been in love with for over 40 years. I
want to honor it in a way that shows a new generation how black culture
continues to be a catalyst for new trends in every area, from fashion to music."
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