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SUPERFLY

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 Super Fly."

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," says Shore.

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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