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Before “Fruitvale Station,” there was “Boyz n the Hood”

When moviegoers talk about Fruitvale Station, which pulled in nearly $4.7 million over last weekend’s nationwide release, they often talk about the sobbing that you hear in the theater as the credits roll, especially noticeable because the tears flow openly from the men in the audience.

This phenomenon was first noted at opening weekend in Oakland, where audiences watching the story of Oscar Grant, an unarmed young black man shot to death, emerged from theaters to hear that George Zimmerman was found not guilty of the murder of Trayvon Martin. Tweets about the verdict twinned the hashtags #oscargrant and #trayvonmartin as the same story, different state.

The timing of the movie’s release is more than a little eerie, and when director Ryan Coogler discusses it, he is cautious, saying he didn’t anticipate the two would become linked. “People draw a lot of parallels between what happened with Oscar and Trayvon,” he told me as he prepared for a screening in Atlanta. “For me, the film is about humanity and it’s about relationships, and the relationships left behind when a human being’s life is cut short.”

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