‘Candyman’: Nia DaCosta Makes Film History as the First Black Female Director to Hit #1 at the Box Office

Nia DaCosta’s Candyman is a sequel to the 1992 original horror film. The release date was originally intended to be in June 2020. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in delays. Unfortunately, the world isn’t in the clear from the pandemic quite yet. Therefore, studios have been opting for day-and-date streaming releases for many big titles. Universal Pictures and MGM Pictures exclusively released Candyman in theaters, which could have contributed to its success.

Black female voices at the box office

Deadline reported that the top five openings for films at the domestic box office made by Black female directors include A Wrinkle in Time ($33.1 million), Candyman ($20.4 million), Little ($15.4 million), The Photograph ($12.1 million), and Queen & Slim ($11.89 million). It’s worth noting that the majority of these projects aren’t big Hollywood movies that would have gone on to make substantially more money. Universal Pictures happened to distribute four of these titles.

Black filmmakers often don’t get the same opportunities that white ones do. Add the intersectionality of a Black female director and the box office statistics get even smaller. For example, Ava DuVernay was the first Black female director to have the opportunity to direct a $100 million+ project with one of the Hollywood studios. It’s rather surprising that it took until 2018 for this to happen.

Nia DaCosta makes history with ‘Candyman’

Nia DaCosta and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II on 'Candyman' set
Nia DaCosta and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II | Parrish Lewis/Universal Pictures and MGM Pictures

Candyman‘s $20.4 million is a huge achievement. DaCosta is now the first Black female director to have her film land at the coveted top spot at the domestic box office. However, Candyman achieved even more than that within its first weekend.

The horror film is now the “second-highest grossing 3-day domestic weekend B.O. opening for a Black female director.” The previous holder of this title was DuVernay’s A Wrinkle In Time. However, this won’t be the case for too much longer. DaCosta has been brought on board to make the Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels. As a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s sure to be a hit. It lands in theaters on November 11, 2022.

Nia DaCosta has endured repeated disrespect

DaCosta has achieved an incredible feat here. Unfortunately, she has been met with disrespect. Despite her credit as the director and co-writer, many folks have credited the movie to producer and co-writer Jordan Peele. His involvement certainly got the project running, but he didn’t make the film. It’s DaCosta’s movie and she should be celebrated for her triumphant achievement.

The Guardian‘s interview with DaCosta explored some of this disrespect. This includes inappropriate comments made by her own crew. “In the moment, you’re just like: ‘Push on,'” she explained. “You just deal with it. But in retrospect, I will never do that again.” DaCosta certainly shouldn’t have to deal with such a level of disrespect.

DaCosta is about to make a lot more noise with The Marvels. The release of the first Captain Marvel included backlash against star Brie Larson. The MCU fandom continues to harshly critique the actor. At least it’s less likely that folks will give the film’s ownership to anyone other than DaCosta this time around.

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