How 'Sorry to Bother You' Shaped a New Film Genre

“There will be people copying that, or maybe not necessarily copying it, but influenced by it and the folks influenced by it, they’ll be a little bit more honest. But on the other hand, there will be people that know that they can get funded by being like, 'This is like ‘Sorry to Bother You,'" Riley said."

Writer-director Boots Riley says his film, Sorry to Bother You, will influence genre films in the future. 

The film follows a young black man Cassius (Lakeith Stanfield) in an alternate reality, who finds success as a telemarketer by using his “white” voice, and must grapple with a dark trade secret that he discovers. The satirical film covers a number of issues, including economy, race relations, cultural appropriation, corporate corruption, gender politics and many others.

“It’s funny because I’ve seen people make a list of what the movie handles and I really hadn’t thought about that it handles those things,” Riley told The Hollywood Reporter In Studio. “I knew because it all grows out of heightening the contradictions of situations, and having those situations grow out of the main story, and also trying to talk about the larger philosophical ideas that grow out of the situations.”

Sorry to Bother You, he says, feels like a new genre in cinema that audiences haven’t quite seen before. Based on its success, a new wave of films like it could be what’s next for the entertainment industry.

“There will be people copying that, or maybe not necessarily copying it, but influenced by it and the folks influenced by it, they’ll be a little bit more honest. But on the other hand, there will be people that know that they can get funded by being like, 'This is like Sorry to Bother You.' And I don’t down them for that, but that’s unfortunate that the folks that are funding [films] have to have that reference instead of ‘This is something new and no, it’s not like Sorry to Bother You.’”

As far as what’s next for Riley, he has his hands full with projects including a television pilot with Michel Ellenberg, writing and directing an episode of Guillermo del Toro’s Netflix horror anthology 10 After Might and a top-secret feature film deal.

Watch the video above to hear Riley discuss audiences’ reactions to the film, his criticism of Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman and more.