Stomp the Yard
|Stomp the Yard|
|Directed by||Sylvain White|
|Produced by||Will Packer
Rob Hardy (executive producer)
|Written by||Robert Adetuyi
|Music by||Sam Retzer
|Edited by||David Checel|
|Distributed by||Rainforest Films
|Running time||114 min.|
Stomp the Yard is a 2007 drama and dance film produced by Rainforest Films and released through Sony Pictures' Screen Gems division on January 12, 2007. Directed by Sylvain White, Stomp the Yard centers around DJ Williams, a college student at a fictional historically Black university who pledges to join a fictional Greek-letter fraternity. The film's central conflict involves DJ's fraternity competing in various stepping competitions against a rival fraternity from the same school. The film's script was written by Robert Adetuyi, working from an original draft by Gregory Ramon Anderson. The film was originally titled Steppin', but to avoid confusion over the 2006 film Step Up, the title was changed.
The film stars Columbus Short, Meagan Good, Darrin Henson, Brian White, Laz Alonso, and Valarie Pettiford, with Harry Lennix, and, in their film debuts, R&B singers Ne-Yo & Chris Brown. Stomp the Yard was filmed in Atlanta, Georgia, on the campuses of Morris Brown College, Georgia Institute of Technology, Morehouse College, and Clark Atlanta University, and in the MAK Historic District of Decatur, Georgia.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (December 2011)|
DJ Williams (Columbus Short) is a young man in inner-city Los Angeles. He and his younger brother Duron (Chris Brown) compete in local dance competitions as members of a crew known as the "Goon Squad". During the battle there are backs and forths, but in the end of the battle the Goon Squad win a cash-prize, and the losing home crew responds by ambushing DJ and his crewmates after the show. A fight breaks out, and the leader of the rival crew starts beating up DJ. Duron pushes him away and starts fighting him, leading the rival to pull out a gun, killing Duron.
Arrested for assault, DJ is subsequently sent by his mother to live with his aunt Jackie (Valerie Pettiford) and uncle Nate (Harry J. Lennix) in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is to attend historically black Truth University. Nate, the physical plant director at Truth, aims to teach DJ responsibility and puts him to work doing maintenance as part of a work-study program.
While waiting in line to register for classes, DJ sees a fellow student, April Palmer (Meagan Good), to whom he is immediately attracted. After registration, he moves into his dorm room, where he meets his new roommate Rich Brown (Ne-Yo). Rich meets DJ at a stepping competition on the green between the Truth chapters of rival fraternities Theta Nu Theta and Mu Gamma Xi. The Mu Gamma Xi crew, seven-time national stepping champions, easily steals the show until DJ sees April across the way and runs right through their step line in an attempt to speak to her. A fight nearly breaks out between the freshman and the Gamma steppers, whose best stepper, Grant (Darrin Henson) is April's boyfriend.
That night, Rich and his friends go out to a local club called the Phoenix and invite DJ along. Hoping to impress April and upstage Grant and the Gammas (all of whom are also in attendance), DJ takes to the floor. Despite the animosity between DJ and Grant, the Gammas recognize his skills as a dancer and their chapter president Zeke (Laz Alonso) invites him to pledge for Mu Gamma Xi. DJ turns down both Zeke's offer as well as an offer from the Theta Nu Theta chapter's leader Sylvester (Brian White).
After learning that April is a student history tutor, DJ signs himself up for tutoring so that he can spend time with her. The two slowly begin a friendship and DJ takes April out to dinner. During their date, April discusses the importance of black fraternities and sororities with DJ, and tells him to visit Heritage Hall on the campus' Greek Row.
The next day, DJ learns about the significant number of African-American historical figures and celebrities who were members of various Greek-letter organizations, and decides to pledge for the Theta chapter along with Rich and their friend Noel (Jermaine Williams). After "crossing over" to become official Theta members, DJ, Rich, and Noel join the Thetas' step crew.
Dismissing the chapter's traditional step moves as old-fashioned, DJ teaches his frat brothers a few of his old krumping moves. Sly disapproves of DJ's attempts to modernize Thetas' steps, and challenges DJ to a battle at the Phoenix between his line brothers and DJ's; the new moves against the old. DJ's line brothers lose the competition due to his show-boating, though Sly lets DJ teach the crew some new moves as a compromise.
April eventually leaves Grant for DJ, angering her father, Dr. William Palmer (Allan Louis), the school's Provost and a Gamma brother himself.
A few of the Gammas run a background check on DJ, and learn about the fight in which DJ's brother was killed, and for which DJ was convicted for aggravated assault in an unfair trial. This information is forwarded to the school's Ethics Committee, which suspends DJ for the remainder of the year. Dr. Palmer, who has the authority to overturn the Ethics Committee's decision, later offers to reinstate DJ with the provision that he stop seeing April, which he refuses.
When April learns from her father why DJ has been suspended, she questions DJ and learns first-hand the story behind his arrest. DJ's Aunt Jackie, an old girlfriend of Dr. Palmer's, confronts him and is joined by April who overheard the conversation, leading Dr. Palmer to overturn the Ethics Committee's decision.
Reinstated thanks to April's help, DJ arrives just in time to take part in the final round of the nationals stepping competition, which ends in a tie between the Thetas and Gammas, leading to a head-to-head competition between DJ and Grant.
Unknown to DJ and the Thetas, the Gammas had recorded DJ practicing his moves prior to the competition. Going first, Grant does DJ's exact routine from the videotape. After he finishes, DJ matches Grant move for move, but tosses in something the Gammas didn't get on tape: a move Duron performed to win his last competition (except more evolved).
The Theta Nu Theta crew win the competition, and DJ is congratulated by his frat brothers as April runs out to kiss him. The scene is captured in a still black-and-white photo, which is added to the wall at Heritage Hall.
A quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. appears just before the credits. "Intelligence plus character. That is the goal of true education."
- Columbus Short - DJ Williams, a gifted street dancer who starts out being a selfish loner.
- Meagan Good - April, DJ's love interest, and Dr. Palmer's daughter.
- Ne-Yo - Rich Brown, DJ's roommate.
- Darrin Henson - Grant, the star stepper of Truth University. Also, DJ's adversary
- Harry J. Lennix - Nathan Williams, DJ's uncle, and Dr. Palmer's adversary
- Valarie Pettiford - Jackie Williams, DJ's aunt and Dr. Palmer's old college girlfriend
- Brian J. White - Sylvester, the president of Theta Nu Theta.
- Laz Alonso - Zeke, the president of Mu Gamma Xi
- Jermaine Williams - Noel, Rich's friend
- Chris Brown – Duron Williams, DJ's younger brother who was killed in the beginning of the movie.
A soundtrack containing hip hop music was released on April 24, 2007 by Artists' Addiction Records. It peaked at 20 on the Top Soundtracks.
Alpha Phi Alpha boycott threat
A boycott of the film was threatened by Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and supported by Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, due to a conflict between the organizations and Stomp the Yard producers Will Packer and Rob Hardy (both members of Alpha Phi Alpha) over the unauthorized use of some of Alpha Phi Alpha's trademarks in the film. The groups ended their threat when Sony Pictures and Screen Gems agreed to the removal of all references, in the film, to the Fraternity. Sony and Screen Gems made a decision for a donation to The Washington D. C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, a project of Alpha Phi Alpha. The disputed scenes of Alpha Phi Alpha steppers which were deleted from the final release print appear in both versions of the Stomp the Yard movie trailer. Despite the controversy, the filmmakers were honored by Alpha Phi Alpha at the Fraternity's 103rd Anniversary Convention held in New Orleans in 2009.
The general consensus was that while the film's dance and stepping sequences were found to be impressive, its plot was seen as melodramatic and clichéd. Regardless of the critical reviews, however, the film opened at number-one with a first-weekend gross of $22 million, becoming the first film in three weekends to beat out Night at the Museum at the box office. Stomp the Yard, produced on a budget of $13 million, eventually went on to gross $61 million in the United States and $75 million worldwide.
Stomp the Yard received poor reviews from critics. On the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes, 27% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 86 reviews.
Rainforest Films announced a "Stomp the Yard" sequel, called Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming. The studio signed on studio partner Rob Hardy to direct. Columbus Short, who starred in the original Sony Screen Gems release, makes a cameo appearance as DJ. Other cast members include Terrence J of 106 and Park, Tyler Nelson from Taking the Stage, former Cheetah Girls member Kiely Williams, singer/rapper Teyana Taylor, Pooch Hall from The Game, and Miracle's Boys.
- (2007). Stomp the Yard box office results. BoxOfficeMojo.com Retrieved September 2, 2007.
- Alpha Phi Alpha Official Statement on "Stomp The Yard, "http://web.archive.org/web/20070927194014/http://www.aka1908.com/pdf/stomptheyard.pdf
- Newsweek Article: Stepping Out of Line? by Joshua Alston, retrieved from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16583100/site/newsweek/ on July 7, 2007
- Rotten Tomatoes consensus for Stomp the Yard. Retrieved from http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/stomp_the_yard/ on Jan. 14, 2007.
- "'Stomp the Yard' dances to No. 1 finish". USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2007-01-14-box-office-analysis_x.htm?csp=34 on Jan. 14, 2007.
- Official website
- Stomp the Yard at the Internet Movie Database
- Stomp the Yard at AllMovie
- Stomp the Yard at Rotten Tomatoes