LOS ANGELES, March 8 (Reuters) - A month after "Black Panther" showcased black excellence in the form of a superhero movie, "A Wrinkle in Time" is hoping to do the same through a beloved American children's novel.
Directed by Ava DuVernay, the Disney movie transforms author Madeleine L'Engle's 1962 tale of science fiction, adolescent angst and imagination into a vision of black female empowerment.
The film, opening in U.S. theaters on Friday, also marks the first time a woman of color has directed a Hollywood action movie with a budget bigger than $100 million, and with such a multi-racial cast.
Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon play the three supernatural beings who help guide Meg Murry, a 13-year-old who loves physics, in a search for her missing father that involves saving the universe from impending evil.
"Look at what is at the center of this story. This beautiful young girl, who is a person of color, who goes on this incredible adventure to discover her father and then discovers the best of herself in the process," said Winfrey, who plays the supernatural Mrs Which.
DuVernay cast bi-racial actress Storm Reid as teenager Meg and populated the film with actors of multiple ethnicities.
"Shouldn't everyone have a seat at the table? That's all we are saying here," said DuVernay
"Mindy's south-east Asian, Deric McCabe - a little Filipino-American boy. African-American, biracial, black, Caucasian, let everyone be there, Latino. It's about time," she said.
"Black Panther," also from Disney, won rave reviews, has taken $921 million at the global box office in three weeks, and upended the Hollywood notion that films by and about black people don't make money.
"It's wonderful that we're reflecting the world that we're living in today, and in the wake of 'Black Panther', I feel like we could be the spiritual sister," said British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays Meg's mother in "A Wrinkle in Time."
Early reviews for "A Wrinkle in Time" have been mixed, and the movie is expected to bring in about $40 million on its opening weekend in North America, box-office analysts say. "Black Panther" took more than $190 million on its opening weekend.
Movie critics praised the visual imagination of "A Wrinkle in Time" and its messages of diversity and empowerment. But Variety said the film was "wildly uneven, weirdly suspenseless, and totally all over the place," while the Los Angeles Times liked the "sheer exuberance" of the movie but wished it was "more focused, more disciplined." (Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Reuters Television; Editing by Sandra Maler)