Jordan Peele’s brilliant psychological horror thriller Get Out cost a mere $4.5 million to produce and in the weeks leading up to its release last Thursday, was projected to make something on the order of about $20 million.
In its first weekend in theaters, though, the movie defied expectations and managed to rake in just over $30 million and become the number one movie in America, unseating The Lego Batman Movie from the top spot it’s had for the past month since its domestic release.
Get Out‘s performance is obviously great for writer-director Jordan Peele making his transition from acting in front of the camera to crafting thoughtful stories from the director’s chair, but it also sends a strong message about the kinds of success that black movies can have when given the opportunity to thrive.
There is a common misconception that movies about black people, that are produced by black people, or star black leads will only appeal to black audiences, which (along with institutionalized racism) is one of the reasons that studios shy away from greenlighting them. This sort of thinking leads to a disproportionately smaller number of black films being produced and many of those films tend to tell a very narrow range of stories (what’s good, Tyler Perry?)
Get Out, much like Fences, Hidden Figures, and Moonlight, takes on the idea that black films don’t play well across multiple demographics and proves it to be patently false in a way that, hopefully, will resonate with more film studios.
This isn’t the first time that a number of black films telling a variety of different, uniquely black stories have dominated the box office within a short amount of time but Get Out’s performance is a timely reminder that black excellence shouldn’t be dismissed as being some sort of fluke.