The lesson for “traditional” Hollywood of this weekend’s to box office is two-fold. First of all, we have another shining example of why ranking is relatively irrelevant. Disney’s Thor: The Dark World is the top film of the weekend with $38 million, but it is not the top story of the weekend. Universal’s The Best Man Holiday, Malcolm D. Lee’s sequel to The Best Man fourteen years after the original, debuted with a genuinely strong $30.6 million. Said number is an unquestionable triumph for the $17m comedy whether it ends up in first place or ends up in ninth place.
The second lesson of the weekend is yet another one that should have been learned by now: Yes, black people go to the movies. We all like to act surprised over and over when Tyler Perry scores again and again or when Kevin Hart’s Laugh At My Pain or Let Me Explain break out in limited release. It’s well-past time we noticed that black audiences like seeing themselves onscreen. More importantly, and this is arguably the key, they really like seeing black characters onscreen in starring roles in films that don’t necessarily revolve around racially-based adversity. When Hollywood bothers to make films like that, African-American audiences generally show up in relatively solid numbers, with periodic blockbuster debuts like this one.
Tim Story’s Think Like A Man, loosely based on Steve Harvey’s dating self-help book, was a breath of fresh air last April. Many in traditional Hollywood acted stunned when it debuted with $33 million the weekend before summer, but in retrospect it shouldn’t have been all that surprising. It was a genuine ensemble romantic comedy that happened to be filled with black movie stars without the Tyler Perry package. It was something we hadn’t seen much of since the early 2000′s. It doesn’t hurt that several cast members of The Best Man have become bigger stars in the last fourteen years. Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, and Harold Perrinea are all “names” in the African American community. This should make Sony, which has Think Like a Man Too set to open in the summer.
How many of you saw the film this weekend? We don’t want to spoil it for those who are going to see the movie….so let’s not give anything away.
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