Before we get to F. Gary Gray however, let’s deal with some business first.
Since the summer film season is coming to an end, it’s time to take a look back at how this season compares with previous years. And the answer is, not bad; not bad at all. In fact pretty damn good.
Although, back in June, there were warning signs that the summer of 2015 was going to be a real box office disappointment, things really picked up in June and July, and this summer’s final box office tally (from the first weekend of May to Labor Day) will hit somewhere around $4.4 billion.
That’s doesn’t beat the domestic box office record of $4.7 billion, which was made during the summer of 2013, but it’s close enough. And this year’s total is up 8.4% from last year, and ties with 2011 for the second biggest summer B.O. take in history.
The good news is that a lot of studio execs are breathing a huge sigh of relief after a very rocky start. The bad news is that, they could say to themselves, nothing needs to change, and they can just keep just doing what they’re doing. But how long can they keep that up? Who knows what 2016 could bring. It could possibly be the lowest grossing summer in years. Things in this wacky business have a long history of the unexpected and unforeseen.
But getting back to this summer… a late major part of the season’s success was the huge August opening for F. Gary Gray’s "Straight Outta Compton," which crossed the $100 million mark this past weekend, after a spectacular $60.2 million opening last weekend. Though the film dropped slightly more than I predicted from last weekend to this weekend, with a 56% drop off, it still was No. 1 at the box office, with $26.8 million, for a total of almost $111.5 million to date; and it’s certain to keep its No. 1 position for at least another two weekends. At this stage the film still looks good for $140 million+ domestically.
That makes it the second $100 million grosser for Gray who has solidified his position in a very exclusive club – black directors who have directed films which have grossed $100 million or more, as Gray has done with "The Italian Job" and now "Compton."
The president of the club still remains Tim Story with his "Fantastic Four" 1 & 2 movies, as well as "Ride Along" (not to forget "Think Like a Man" which came close with $91 million). Other fully paid up, card carrying members are – Antoine Fuqua ("The Equalizer"), Keenen Ivory Wayans ("Scary Movie"), John Singleton ("2 Fast 2 Furious" – I’ll bet you forgot about that one), Lee Daniels ("The Butler"), Clark Johnson ("S.W.A.T.") and Sidney Poitier ("Stir Crazy").
And you could argue that two other unofficial associate members would be Spike Lee, whose "Inside Man" grossed around $88 million domestically but adjusted for inflation, would be over $100 million; and Tyler Perry with his film "Madea Goes to Jail," which grossed around $90 million, but adjusted for inflation is just over $100 million.
And to answer your question, no there are no black women on the list officially, though one could make the case for Angela Robinson who directed the 2005 Disney film "Herbie Fully Loaded," which, in today’s dollars, grossed $180 million worldwide. She has yet to direct another feature in ten years, and has been busy as an executive producer on cable series such as "True Blood", "The L Word" and "Hung".
At this point, it looks like there will be no new members joining the club in the foreseeable future, except for maybe Ryan Coogler’s "Creed," depending on how it opens. But both Story and Fuqua could further solidify their positions in the club with Story’s "Ride Along 2" and Fuqua’s remake of the classic western "The Magnificent Seven" with Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt coming out September 2016.
And in second place this weekend, once again, is "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation" with $11.7 million, and $158 million domestically and $500 million worldwide, to date. Meanwhile "Sinister 2" (aoes anyone remember "Sinister 1"? – I sure don’t; and I’ll bet neither do you) made $10.6 million, which was good enough for third place.
Both "Man from UNCLE" and "Fantastic Four" continue to be big losers, while the other other new releases this weekend completely fizzled. "Hitman: Agent 47" (does anyone remember the first Hitman? – I don’t; and neither do you) made only $8.2 million.
"American Ultra", starring two of the most overbearingly irritating actors working today – Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart – completely tanked with $5 million. Having one of them in a film is bad enough, but putting them together in a film is deadly. What were they thinking?
1) Straight Outta Compton Uni. $26,760,000 Total: $111,483,000
2) Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Par. $11,700,000 Total: $157,763,000
3) Sinister 2 Focus $10,633,000
4) Hitman: Agent 47 Fox $8,200,000
5) The Man From U.N.C.L.E. WB $7,420,000 Total: $26,637,000
6) American Ultra LGF $5,500,000
7) The Gift STX $4,300,000 Total: $31,053,000
8) Ant-Man BV $4,088,000 Total: $164,524,000
9) Minions Uni. $3,710,000 -Total: $319,965,000
10) Fantastic Four Fox $3,650,000 Total: $49,625,000
11) Vacation WB (NL) $3,110,000 Total: $52,283,000
12) Ricki and the Flash