|Stomp the Yard|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sylvain White|
|Produced by||Will Packer|
|Written by||Robert Adetuyi|
|Music by||Sam Retzer|
|Edited by||David Checel|
|Distributed by||Screen Gems|
Stomp the Yard is a 2007 dance drama 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 on 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. Delta Sigma Theta along with other sororities like Gamma Theta were in the movie.
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. Elsewhere Short and Brown had also starred together in the film This Christmas.
DJ Williams is a young man in inner-city Los Angeles. He and his younger brother Duron 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 leader of the rival crew goes all in for a double or nothing battle, which DJ accepts much to the dismay of his brother who knows that if the opposing crew leader thinks he got hustled the crew won't be able to spend the money they win, the Goon Squad wins the second battle 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 and shoot Duron, killing him.
Arrested for assault, DJ is subsequently sent by his mother to live with his aunt Jackie and uncle Nate 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.
DJ sees April Palmer, to whom he is immediately attracted. After registration, he moves into his dorm room, where he meets his new roommate Rich Brown. 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.
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 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.
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. After "crossing over" to become official Theta members, DJ, Rich, and Noel join the Thetas' step crew.
While having dinner, April breaks up with Grant due to his chauvinistic attitude and his failure to know anything about her, particularly that green is her favorite color. She grows closer to DJ and they eventually become a couple. While at practice, DJ, Rich, Noel and other new members realize the step dance moves are old fashion and aren't good enough to win the stepping competition. So they decide to take the time to learn fresher moves. Sly then gathers his older member and challenges DJ and the rest to an old school vs. new school stepping contest. DJ blows the contest due to his showboating. They remind DJ, much like Duron did earlier in the film, that it is about the team and not about him. DJ apologizes to the entire fraternity and is quickly forgiven. Sly also requests DJ to show the team some of his moves.
A few days before the competition, Grant stumbles upon DJ's file and discovers his assault record and presents it to the board. The board then decide to suspend DJ for not disclosing his criminal record. Dr. Palmer, who is April's father, calls in DJ to his office. He was willing to uplift his suspension on the condition that he is to no longer date April. DJ declines the ultimatum and walks away. DJ then tells Nate and Jackie about the suspension. They then reveal that Jackie dated Dr. Palmer until she met Nate and there has been some animosity between Nate and Palmer ever since. Jackie confronts Dr. Palmer about DJ's suspension and Palmer claims he was only protecting April. April then confronted her father about the situation. Palmer then overturned the board's decision deciding that he would rather deal with DJ in April's life than lose his daughter in his.
DJ's suspension was finally uplifted and he rejoins the Thetas to compete alongside them against the Gammas in the stepping competition. Both teams were tied at the end and it was brought into sudden death rules to determine a winner. 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. The Thetas finally defeats the Gammas. April goes on stage to hug and kiss DJ and while celebrating their victory DJ still wearing Duron's gloves kisses his fist and throws it in the air in Honor of his brother. The Thetas then do their new cheer and have their picture taken where its hung in the Heritage Hall.
- Columbus Short as DJ Williams, a gifted street dancer who starts out being a selfish loner.
- Meagan Good as April Palmer, DJ's love interest, and Dr. Palmer's daughter.
- Ne-Yo as Rich Brown, DJ's roommate.
- Darrin Henson as Grant, the star stepper of Truth University and DJ's adversary.
- Harry J. Lennix as Nathan Williams, DJ's uncle, and Dr. Palmer's adversary.
- Valarie Pettiford as Jackie Williams, DJ's aunt and Dr. Palmer's old college girlfriend.
- April Clark as Maya, April's best friend.
- Brian J. White as Sylvester, the president of Theta Nu Theta.
- Laz Alonso as Zeke, the president of Mu Gamma Xi.
- Jermaine Williams as Noel, Rich's friend.
- Chris Brown as Duron Williams, DJ's younger brother who was killed in the beginning of the movie.
- Allan Louis as Dr. Palmer, April Palmer's father and Nate's adversary.
- Chuck Maldonado, Choreographer and Creative Director of World of Step
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 to the fraternity from the film. 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 negative reviews from critics. On the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes, 26% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 88 reviews.
Rainforest Films announced a Stomp the Yard sequel, called Stomp the Yard: 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 & 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.
- "Stomp the Yard (2007)" – via www.imdb.com.
- Alpha Phi Alpha Official Statement on "Stomp The Yard, "https://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 https://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2007-01-14-box-office-analysis_x.htm?csp=34 on Jan. 14, 2007.