Candyman Becomes First No. 1 Box Office Film Directed By A Black Woman

Say her name five times and she'll appear to set a genuinely unprecedented box office milestone. The name in question is, of course, Nia DaCosta, and this past weekend's release of "Candyman" made her the very first Black woman to direct a film that opened at the top spot of the box office charts. The film's release defied multiple daunting obstacles on its way to making history: factors that range from a truly insidious industry trend that has dictated who is allowed to receive prime directing opportunities that would set themselves up for box office glory, to the ongoing pandemic-depressed box office returns that many films have been struggling to overcome. None proved to be a match for Nia DaCosta's "Candyman."

Candyman Comes Out on Top

In a normal year, late August would have been perceived to be a soft landing spot for such a heralded and buzzy (pun intended!) film like "Candyman." Of course, nothing about 2021 has been even close to "normal." Though the film undoubtedly would have done even better without the looming specter of the pandemic, IndieWire reports that DaCosta's legacy sequel still managed to pull in over $22 million this weekend, far exceeding the very conservative industry estimates of roughly $15 million and more than enough to land "Candyman" at No. 1 in the box office charts. This has to feel like vindication for DaCosta, particularly considering a marketing campaign and a prevailing online narrative that has attempted to erase her own name from the film in favor of the more brand-friendly Jordan Peele, who received both producing and screenplay credits for the film along with DaCosta herself.

"Candyman" received a B CinemaScore (which is great for a horror movie, a genre that tends to divide general audiences) and rave reviews across the board, including from /Film's own Chris Evangelista. DaCosta's achievement comes after previous films directed by Black women, such as "Selma" or "A Wrinkle in Time" from filmmaker Ava DuVernay, came close to breaking through in the past. Budgeted at $25 million and rated R, the performance of the horror film proves that audience interest in the original "Candyman" brand remains strong and that audiences continue to show up for films that take an unapologetically direct approach in engaging with contemporary politics, social justice issues, and ongoing cultural discourse.

Elsewhere, "Free Guy" held steady at second place with $13.5 million, dropping only 27% after its third weekend of release and amounting to a hair under $80 million in total. "PAW Patrol" came in at third with an additional $6.6 million and a cumulative gross of $24 million. Disney's "Jungle Cruise" (total: $100 million) and Sony's "Don't Breathe 2" (total: $24.5 million) round out the top 5, with each film pulling in a respective amount of $5 million and $2.8 million.