Nia DaCosta first Black woman to own Box Office as Candyman takes in $22.3 m

(Nia DaCosta makes box office history)

Nia DaCosta’s Candyman earned an estimated $22,370,000 in its opening domestic weekend, beating the lowball projection of $15 million by nearly 50% showing the world that there is an audience for Black filmmakers telling Black stories and earning DaCosta the title of the first Black woman director to take the top spot.

Some have come close, including Ava DuVernay’s Selma and A Wrinkle in Time, and Gina Prince-Blythewood’s Love and Basketball, all of which opened in second place. DaCosta, who is currently helming Marvel’s Captain Marvel 2 has broken new ground.

Produced by Jordan Peele, the Universal/MGM/Monkeypaw film is a sequel to the 1992 slasher film of the same name directed by Bernard Rose. Premiering exclusively in theaters, Candyman stars Watchmen’s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Mad Men alum and WandaVision breakout Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Colman Domingo, and more. The screenplay was written by Peele and DaCosta alongside Win Rosenfeld. 

Like the original, the 2021 film takes us back to the Cabrini-Green Housing Projects, now torn down and gentrified into upper-class condos. But the legend and presence of Candyman still festers and thrives in some people’s memories. 

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, Latinx 22 percent, and Asians 5 percent.

Candyman has slashed its way to the number one spot, knocking Free Guy, which held onto the top spot for two weeks in a row, down to #2. 

Free Guy grossed over $79 million after its third weekend, which improved its hold in week 3, however, the best hold belongs to Jungle Cruise. In its 5th week, it dropped only 21 percent, and crossed the $100 million domestic mark. Unlike Candyman or Free Guy, it is available on VOD (on DIsney+ for $29.99). 

Four underwhelming openers from last week all dropped significantly. PAW Patrol (Paramount), also available on VOD (Paramount+), dropped 50 percent. The Protege (Lionsgate) dropped 43 percent. The Night House (Searchlight) fell 57 percent, Reminiscence (Warner Bros.) starring Hugh Jackman didn’t even hang on in the top 10, falling  58 percent, but it’s also available on HBO Max.

Number 5 at the domestic box office is Sony’s horror sequel Don’t Breathe 2 earning $2.8 million for a domestic box office of $24.5 million.

Sixth place belongs to MGM and UAR’s Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson, which fell 40 percent in its third weekend earning $2.2 million for a domestic total of $19.7 million, followed by Warner Bros.’ day-and-date release The Suicidie Squad at #7, with $2 million weekend gross and a domestic cume of $52 million.

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The Top Ten

1. Candyman (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 72; Est. budget: $25 million

$22,370,000 in 3,569 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $6,268; Cumulative: $22,37

2. Free Guy (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$13,556,000 (-27%) in 3,940 theaters (-225); PTA: $3,441; Cumulative: $79,311,000

3. PAW Patrol (Paramount) Week 2; Last weekend #2; also on Paramount Plus

$6,625,000 (-50%) in 3,189 theaters (+5); PTA: $2,077; Cumulative: $24,081,000

4. Jungle Cruise (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #3; also on Premium VOD at Disney+

$5,020,000 (-21%) in 3,370 theaters (-205); PTA: $1,490; Cumulative: $100,110,000

5. Don’t Breathe 2 (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #4

$2,835,000 (-44%) in 2,703 theaters (-302); PTA: $1,049; Cumulative: $24,579,000

6. Respect (United Artists) Week 3; Last weekend #5; also on Premium VOD

$2,269,000 (-40%) in 2,607 theaters (-600); PTA: $870; Cumulative: $19,743,000

7. The Suicide Squad (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend #6; also on HBO Max

$2,035,000 (-40%) in 2,436 theaters (-490); PTA: $835; Cumulative: $52,779,000

8. The Protege (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #7

$1,650,000 (-43%) in 2,577 theaters (no change); PTA: $640; Cumulative: $5,724,000

9. The Night House (Searchlight) Week 2; Last weekend #8

$1,218,000 (-57%) in 2,240 theaters (no change); PTA: $544; Cumulative: $5,180,000

10. Old (Universal) Week 6; Last weekend #10

$830,000 (-27%) in 1,136 theaters (-411); PTA: $731; Cumulative: $46,500,000

Box office numbers won’t fully recover until the pandemic is over. Vaccine mandates for indoor venues, such as the one moving ahead in Los Angeles, might hurt sales in the short term while improving the overall business picture, however, the areas that would most benefit most from such requirements probably are the least likely to enact them.

Next up for DaCosta – The Marvels, the sequel to Captain Marvel.