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From MSNBC:

They are three of the biggest stars in Hollywood. They are also black.

Denzel Washington, Will Smith and Tyler Perry are money machines, although each is unique in operation. As bankable entertainers, there are few who can match them for consistent box-office clout. That probably isn’t something that could have been said 20 years ago — or even 10 years ago.

Has Hollywood become more tolerant, more accepting, more open-minded? Or is it simply that its obsession with green makes it color-blind when it comes to backing a project? And do Washington, Smith and Perry represent a breakthrough, or are they isolated cases who have defied the odds?

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As Black History Month unfolds, the film industry sees the aforementioned titans standing tall on top of a pile of dough. Washington’s recent “The Book of Eli” grossed more than $32 million in its opening weekend ending Jan. 17 and has since amassed more than $63 million. Smith is the only actor in history to have eight consecutive films released that grossed more than $100 million each. Perry, a writer-producer-director and playwright, has raked in more than $400 million with his works and is a one-man cottage industry.

“I think they’d be the first to tell you that African-American actors have made strides in terms of movies and Hollywood,” said Glenn Whipp, a film critic for the Los Angeles Times, Variety, MSN and others. “I think it’s much like when Obama was elected president, people don’t pay attention to color and are able to see past it.”

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