For The 1st Time Ever, The #1 & 2 Films In The Country Were Directed By Black Filmmakers
A series of historical firsts for the film industry took place this past weekend, thanks to Black Panther and A Wrinkle In Time. The films are directed by Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay, respectively.
Black Panther continued its reign hovering atop of the rankings as #1 at the box office for the fourth consecutive weekend since its release. According to Box Office Mojo, the film raked in $41.1 million, and also surpassed the $1 billion-dollar mark in total revenue worldwide. Ava DuVernay’s Sci-Fi Children’s book adaptation A Wrinkle In Time premiered Friday (March 9), pulling in $33 million, and skyrocketing to the #2 spot.
For the first time in history, both #1 and #2 box office spots are held by Black film directors. Among the 33 highest-grossing films with Black directors and $100 million-dollar budgets, none of them have been directed by Black women, but DuVernay’s A Wrinkle In Time is likely to change that.
On Friday (March 9), Ryan Coogler penned a letter published in ESPN W that praised DuVernay and referred to her as his “big sister” in the five years since their meeting.
“In [Ava DuVernay’s] life before I met her, she was a highly admired Hollywood publicist who owned her own company. By then she had written, produced and directed two amazing films, about Black women finding hope while experiencing grief and loss, all while maintaining a production and distribution company to finance and distribute underserved independent films made by women and people of color. She was already one of my heroes, and that was before she took one of the most sought-after scripts in Hollywood and turned it into the best film about Dr. Martin Luther King that anyone will ever make.”
He also called DuVernay a “pioneer.” “She made a show called “Queen Sugar” and mandated the use of female directors and key creatives a full two years before the great Frances McDormand shared with the world what an inclusion rider was. Ava is inclusion, equity and representation,” Coogler penned, referring to Oscar-winner McDormand’s publicized call for greater film industry equality.
Coogler described how both films (now at the top of the earnings report) had creative overlap. “I watched closely from across the hall at Disney while working on Black Panther as my big sister inspired her crew with love and navigated the challenges of studio filmmaking, adapting a book that many people called unfilmable into a movie that explodes with hope, with love and with women warriors.”
He closed from the heart, “But above all, it’s a film about a little Black girl with glasses — like my mom, like my wife, like my big sister Ava — who refuses to accept that her dad is lost. The main character in the film, ‘Meg,’ uses her love, her hope and her kickass skills as a scientist to bring him back, and maybe she saves the universe along the way.”
Both films also mark a huge win for Hip-Hop. The original motion picture soundtrack for Black Panther was co-executive produced by Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg. Also, DuVernay is a product of the Hip-Hop world, being a former MC in the duo Figures Of Speech from the 1990s Los Angeles Underground Hip-Hop scene. She profiled her Hip-Hop origins and other legendary groups such as Freestyle Fellowship and Jurassic 5 from that scene for her directorial debut in the documentary film This Is The Life in 2008, and she documented the struggle for women MCs in BET’s My Mic Sounds Nice. The Fellowship join Sade on the Wrinkle soundtrack.