Candyman Is the First No. 1 Film Directed by a Black Woman

 Candyman Is the First No. 1 Film Directed by a Black Woman

Nia DaCosta attends The African American Film Critics Association’s 11th Annual AAFCA Awards on January 22, 2020 in Hollywood, Calif.

Nia DaCosta attends The African American Film Critics Association’s 11th Annual AAFCA Awards on January 22, 2020 in Hollywood, Calif.

Neither the Delta variant, significant delays nor mixed reviews could keep the Candyman from dominating the box office in the opening weekend of his horrifying return. Almost 30 years after the original film traumatized a generation in 1992, its reboot, directed by Little Woods’ Nia DaCosta, grossed $22,370,00 in its initial domestic weekend, making DaCosta the first Black woman to helm a No. 1, according to IndieWire.

IndieWire primarily interpreted the film’s opening success in the context of a slowly rebounding box office—Candyman was memorably delayed a year, as DaCosta and Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions insisted it open in theaters. However, the outlet also notes that the weekend’s gross exceeded “the lowball projection of $15 million by nearly 50 percent.” Candyman is estimated to have been produced on a budget of $25 million.

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Additionally, the appeal of the continuation of the Candyman legend across demographics was underestimated, as IndieWire notes:

Universal believed it would attract Black viewers with the pedigree of Get Out and Us, and it did. However, the appeal was more diverse: Per the studio’s audience survey, 37 percent of the audience was Black, white was 30 percent, Latinos 22 percent, and Asians 5 percent. That spread was key to reaching the higher number.

In the buildup to Candyman’s long-awaited opening, DaCosta, who penned the script along with producer Peele and Monkeypaw President Win Rosenfeld, has often been sidelined in mainstream media coverage that centered Peele as the fuel behind the reboot. However, the opening weekend triumph cements DaCosta as the first Black female director behind a No. 1 film and possibly the first to co-write one—Girls Trip’s Tracy Oliver being the first to write a $100 million-grossing film. Of course, this moment also likely wouldn’t be possible without the box office success of Ava DuVernay (Selma, A Wrinkle in Time) and Gina Prince-Blythewood (Love and Basketball), whose offerings opened in second place and have continued to pave the way for more Black women in the director’s chair. “DaCosta has broken new ground,” IndieWire writes.

Candyman is in theaters now.

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