The newest Marvel superhero movie “Black Panther” has been called “astonishing,” “iconic,” and “game-changing.”
Now, actress Octavia Spencer is bringing its magic to a community that she hopes will find inspiration in the movie’s message of heroism and representation.
On Wednesday, Spencer announced in an Instagram post that she plans to “buy out a theatre in an underserved community [in Mississippi] to ensure that all our brown children can see themselves as a superhero.”
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According to the post, Spencer, who is originally from neighboring Montgomery, Alabama, will be in Mississippi when the movie premieres on Feb. 16. The post didn’t indicate why the actress would be in the state.
This isn’t the first time Spencer has bought out an entire movie theater for low-income viewers. Last year, Spencer bought out a Los Angeles theater for a screening of “Hidden Figures.”
“If you know a family in need that would like to see our movie but can't afford it have them come. It's first come first served,” she wrote on Instagram at the time. “My mom would not have been able to afford to take me and my siblings.”
Mississippi, which ranks at or near the bottom of nearly all domestic poverty statistics, could certainly use the support.
Approximately one in three black people in Mississippi live below the poverty line, according to Talk Poverty, a project of the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress. Overall, 22% of Mississippians lived below the federal poverty line, which is defined as having a yearly salary of $24,250 or less for a family of four.
For many, the cost of bringing a family of four to see a movie can be prohibitively expensive.
The average cost of a single movie ticket has risen to an all-time high of $8.84, according to the National Association of Theater Owners. That would bring the cost of taking a family of four out to the theaters more than $35.
Considering that the poorest Americans spent 98% of their incomes on basic needs in 2012, leaving them with an average of $367 in discretionary spending per year, spending one-tenth of that on a single night makes little financial sense.
That’s why Spencer’s act means so much — and why seeing black heroes on the big screen can make such a big difference in the lives of some of the poorest Americans.
Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including goal number one: ending poverty. You can join us and take action here.