Creeping into the weekend of the 90th Academy Awards, Black Panther (directed by Ryan Coogler) continued to break records, grossing $760 million dollars at its start and exiting with an estimated $898 million+, making it the fifth highest grossing Marvel movie. And the ticket sales don’t seem to be ceasing anytime soon. Deadline predicting that it will be approaching the $1 billion mark sooner rather than later. With the soaring success of Black Panther, it helps to show Hollywood that yes – movies with diverse creative teams, starring Black actors and other actors of color do sell.
Diverse films have had a rash of recent success. Get Out (directed by Jordan Peele), a thriller with racial themes that came out February of 2017 was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Peele, which he won. Mudbound (directed by Dee Rees) was nominated for three Oscars. Girls Trip, which came out July of 2017 grossed $140 million+. (Its white counterpart film, Rough Night, that came out June of that year only grossed $47.3 million+.) And let us not forget that the Best Picture winner for 2017 was Moonlight (directed by Barry Jenkins), a diverse coming of age story about the life of gay Black man in Miami.
Hollywood has come a long way from Roots, and The Color Purple, both of which were strong and controversial in their day, and still just as important. But these recent entries only further emphasizes to Hollywood that quirky and creative movies with Black and NB-POC leads can exist outside the box of solely being a “good Black movie.” Also, not all diverse movies need to include suffering, slavery, stereotypes, or colorism.
So, why does it seem like Hollywood is still ignoring these stats, and continuing to underestimate the success of diverse movies starring Black people and other POC? Is there a fear of controversy, or intimidation, or is it that movies without Black people suffering or being stereotyped seem too farfetched for white audiences? Movies like Black Panther and Get Out are both controversial movies that broke box office records. Black Panther uses a diverse array of African traditions and displays strong African and Black Pride. Get Out has been accused of “race-baiting” and being “anti-white” by some critics, and yet both films were still largely critically acclaimed and celebrated.
Was it too optimistic to anticipate Daniel Kaluuya taking home an Oscar this past Sunday? Maybe. However, as long as these inventive, controversial, amazing and diverse movies continue to be made, Black people and other POC will continue to slam the box office. And continue to break the chains of Hollywood movie stereotyping.
By Glyniss Wiggins