Weekend Box Office March 10-12: The New Black Cinema + Why all the Fuss Over ‘Get Out’? + ‘Moonlight’ Hits Gold Overseas

BLUMHOUSE

BLUMHOUSE

This weekend’s box office heavyweight battle was between “Kong” and “Logan” with “Kong: Skull Island” the victor, grossing $61 million, beating “Logan’s” $37.8 million by a wide margin.

In fact, the R-rated Logan took a big second week drop of 57%, which is very surprising considering the raves reviews and incredibly strong word of mouth the film has received. One can only guess that perhaps its appeal has been limited to the hardcore Marvel fans, and it’s not reaching broader to general filmgoers. But then what explains the huge success of last year’s equally violent R-rated “Deadpool” – one could argue also a film based on a Marvel character with a supposedly hardcore, but limited fan base – which went on to gross $363 million in the U.S. alone? I have no clue, so you tell me.

But don’t cry for “Logan” since it’s already a huge success with a worldwide gross of $343.5 million so far, heading for half-a-billion. And besides, this could be all moot by next weekend with the release of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” which analysts are predicting could gross somewhere around $120 million by Sunday, blowing both “Kong” and “Logan” out of the water. We’ll have to wait and see on that one.

Universal/Blumhouse’s “Get Out” continues to be a huge smash, coming in third with $21 million and over $111 million domestically to date; at the rate it’s going, it will become the highest grossing film in Blumhouse’s library to date. It’s already the fastest Blumhouse film to reach $100 million; keep in mind that it was made for $4.5 million!

Lately, you’ve probably read articles claiming that the success of “Get Out” (the most over analyzed movie in recent history) and “Moonlight” represent a sort of turning point in black film – a “new black cinema” that is taking root; a new type of black film that is more challenging, intellectual, artistic and more attuned to current events and social conditions. Of course, what these opinion writers are likely really saying is that they’re hoping for more “Get Outs” and “Moonlights” from black filmmakers with black casts, and less of the usual romcoms and silly comedies which have defined black cinema in Hollywood specifically for the past decade.

The problem with this thinking is that, when these pundits write about black cinema, what they really mean are black films that are produced or released by Hollywood studios or major independent distributors like A24, since these are likely the only black films many of them know about. The fact of the matter is, the overwhelming majority of black films produced and released every year are independently made, completely outside the studio system, and have been that way since the silent film era with the Johnson Brothers and Oscar Micheaux – films that rarely get any kind of major national theatrical release.

These black films, for the most part, tour the film festival circuit and a few, if they’re really lucky, might get picked up for a theatrical or maybe a VOD release.

In “Moonlight’s” case, although it was an independently produced film, it was helped by the fact that Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company got behind it. It also didn’t hurt that the film got its premiere at the prestigious Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, which is always attended by the top critics and influencers in the business – the same film festival where “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins worked as a programmer for a several years before he made “Moonlight,” and the very same film festival where Jenkins first met execs from Plan B.

If it wasn’t for that coincidental set of events, we may not be talking about “Moonlight” today. And to make my point, if it was looked at as just another black indie relegated mainly to black film festivals, and not much more beyond that, even if it was still the same film we’ve all seen today, would these so-called film experts have written about “Moonlight” then? I suspect not. If they would actually attempt to discover black films beyond their usual, comfortable environment, they would discover that there is no shortage of the kind of “new black cinema” that they now, all of a sudden, have found out exists.

In terms of box office this weekend, “Moonlight” has now hit $27 million, and looks like it could actually hit $30 million domestically, which is likely more than many guessed it would gross, including myself. The film is doing excellent business overseas, with over $20 million in international box office, and heading towards $50 million worldwide, as it still continues to open in other territories, which means it should break above $50 million in global ticket sales. For a $1.5 million (budget) coming-of-age drama with a gay black American male protagonist, that’s noteworthy!

But another thing to get off my chest has been the response to “Get Out,” with many treating it as if it’s The Second Coming. Granted, the film is clever and well done, but is it really all that? For me at least, it wasn’t the earth shattering film that “will change black cinema forever,” as some are implying. Donald Glover’s FX show “Atlanta” was much more genuinely revolutionary; its elliptical storylines and journeys into pure surrealism were something that I think black films or black TV hadn’t really done before – at least not at the commercial level.

“Get Out” borrows a lot from other horror films (particularly 1975’s “The Stepford Wives”) and in terms of its humor, its clear influence is the genius of Richard Pryor, who, in many of his routines, dealt brilliantly with black paranoia. But I suspect that the popularity of the film is more of a millennial thing, or as I like to call it: “These kids today…”

There have been past horror films that have tackled racism, as well as examined and commented on black social issues, such as Rusty Cundieff’s “Tales from the Hood,” Bill Gunn’s “Ganja and Hess,” James Bond III’s 1990 film “Def by Temptation,” the Hudlin brothers’ HBO film “Cosmic Slop,” the 1930’s race film “The Devils Daughter,” and the 1940 monster race movie “The Son of Ingagi.” I could even make a case for Wes Craven’s “The People Under the Stairs” as well as “Blacula” with William Marshall. My point is that, “Get Out” is not new or different, but just a continuation of an old tradition. Howeve, to those who have a limited knowledge of horror films, black cinema or even black humor before the 1990’s (those “kids” again), it probably all looks new to them. When it comes to film, nothing really is new; rather, just a new way of doing what has already been done.

As for the rest of the weekend’s box office bunch, the list looks pretty much like it has for the past couple of weeks. Although I should note that “Hidden Figures” continues to excel, with a domestic gross of over $162 million and a global gross of $206 million. How many other films can you name that are led by black women characters and have crossed $200 million in worldwide grosses?

This weekend’s top 12 grossing films below:

1) Kong: Skull Island WB $61,015,000
2) Logan Fox $37,850,000 Total: $152,656,733
3) Get Out Uni. $21,072,600 Total $111,054,445
4) The Shack LG/S $10,050,000 Total: $32,268,691
5) The LEGO Batman Movie WB $7,820,000 Total: $159,023,660
6) Before I Fall ORF $3,107,910 Total: $9,036,722
7) Hidden Figures Fox $2,765,000 Total: $162,865,186
8) John Wick: Chapter Two LG/S $2,700,000 Total: $87,423,211
9) La La Land LG/S $1,770,000 Total: $148,445,589
10) Fifty Shades Darker Uni. $1,629,250 Total: $112,922,485
11) Lion Wein. $1,361,350 Total: $48,684,795
12) Fist Fight WB (NL) $1,325,000 Total: $30,515,496

15 Comments

  1. Actually new more recent b.o. numbers have come in for the b.o. total for Moonlight and now the film has crossed $20 million overseas for a total of $49 million worldwide. And the film just opened this past week in Germany and the film’s release in Japan has been pushed up two weeks. Who still says there’s no market for black films overseas?

    • Let’s not kid ourselves about the foreign market. Had it not been for that Oscar snafu, and all the media attention it garnered, would the foreign market have truly been interested in ‘Moonlight’?

  2. Sorry I meant say $46 million worldwide not $49 million. But it will hit $49 million within the next week or two

  3. I don’t think ‘Figures’ has left the top ten since it was released back in December…the legs on that film:) Who’s still getting in line to see ‘Fifty Shades’?
    I think folks are still going to see La La Land as quiet protest for it not winning the big prize this year. I’ve never been a King Kong fan, but Sam Jackson can make most movies entertaining. ‘Fist Fight’ looks to be a rare bomb for Cube…though it did make back it’s production cost. ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ has grossed over 5,5 million since February per IMDB.

    • Actually, it is not a bomb when you count overseas box office. So, far the ww total is $38 + … I don’t expect it will make much more domestically, but let’s see what it does next week or two over seas.

  4. I don’t think “Get Out” is a millennial phenomenon, but more of a white America phenomenon. While the protagonist is black, this movie is truly a analysis of white people and white culture. And the numbers are proving this movie has sparked interest and self reflection on issues of race for millions of whites in a way that has always eluded period pieces about race, like slavery.

  5. No, Get Out is brilliant. It will reinvent the horror genre just like Rosemary’s Baby. It does not borrow from classic horror movies either. It merely alludes to those movies. Borrowing from classics is what La La Land does when it straight up recreates scenes from classic movies. Its critical, cultural, and financial success are extremely appropriate, and Jordan Peele has really shown himself to be an exciting director.

  6. Cynical dismissal of Get Out. And no Moonlight would not be a thing had Plan B not backed it. But that’s also true of 12 Years a Slave. However, both Slave and Moonlight are art house films regardless of their Hollywood ally backer. Get Out is also a better movie than Tales from the Hood.

  7. As to why Logan has been lackluster as opposed to Deadpool: Wolverine has been in 3 stand alone films and like every XMen movie, Deapool had only been in the Wolverine origin story and Ryan Reynolds was the standout in that. I think there’s a little fatigue with Wolverine. Deadpool was unlike anything I’d seen in a long time.

    • Deadpool had a better marketing strategy, that’s it. That film was actually predicted to only open with $40-50 mil and gross around $350-400 mil WW but ended up doing almost $800 mil WW because of its marketing strategy. Fox made that movie for only $60 mil and had a lot of room to focus on marketing whereas Logan was made for $100 mil and had $20 mil spent on marketing. Logan will probably come close to $700 mil WW as the previous 2 Wolverine films have done far better overseas than in the US

  8. Why do ppl always use that ignorant line… “these kids today” in reference to anything newer. Get Out is literally better, if we’re speaking from a cinematic standpoint, than all of those horror films listed in the article. It didn’t borrow or copy anything from those, but simply alluded to them. Jordan Peele even stated he based the film’s premise off how he perceived meeting his wife’s family, so it is an original concept. Y’all can never give anything form today’s generation legitimate credit without saying something from back in the day did it first

  9. Hi Mr. Mims,
    What is the best way to get in contact with you to speak one on one?

    • Sorry don’t want to give my personal contact info out there but there is FB

  10. Cmon, no sour grapes man. Everyday this blog is about pushing unknown, under the radar, unique stories told on film. Then the one time one breaks through, like really really breaks thru, now it’s “what’s so great about {get out}? That story’s been done.”
    Actually, no it wasn’t. And it was way more unique than atlanta, which was basically Louis (ck) FX show done thru a late 20 y/o hip hop lens.
    As for logan v deadpool, there was some wolverine fatigue. But it also seems that deadpool had no competition in theaters for a bit, while logan got beatdown by kong and Samuel l jackson screaming. That combo will win every time.

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