‘Us’ Is What Happens When Movie Studios Keep Underestimating Black Audiences at the Box Office

TVOvermind | 3/21/2012 | Brian Hadsell
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Box office pundits are, generally speaking, a talented bunch. They know the ins-and-outs in Hollywood, which are prone to change with the winds. They know what’s hot and what’s not, what’s up and what’s down and, with almost unerring precision, how much money any given movie stands to make over any given weekend of the year.

Granted, they aren’t perfect, but they are consistently as good at the job as anybody can ever be expected to be (and oftentimes, they’re better). The out-of-nowhere phenomena like Titanic (1997), or Venom’s (2018) unexpected success after everything about it practically screamed at audiences to stay away from it if at all possible, are few and far between. Usually, things go as planned. Movies, and audiences, follow the same script, and the money rolls in (or doesn’t) in a more-or-less predictable fashion.

Years - Group - People - Blindspot - Floundering

But it has become increasingly obvious in recent years that this same, nebulous group of people has a massive blindspot that is indicative of both the floundering box office numbers overall and larger issues we are facing in society. In much the same way that political pundits always seem to underestimate the Black Vote, movie pundits always seem to underestimate the Black Audience.

Don’t believe me? Look no further than this weekend. The day was ruled by Jordan Peele’s long-awaited follow-up to 2017’s sensational, run-away success, Get Out (2017). Us (2019) was always expected to do big business – after all, with that kind of white-hot pedigree, how could it not – but nobody was expecting it to do nearly so well as it did. Most projected that it would do somewhere in the neighborhood of $35-40 million dollars: probably more than Get Out’s $33 million debut, maybe not so much as Captain Marvel (2019), but right there, solidly in the mix of things. Instead,...
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