It is an honour and a privilege to report consistently on the state of black films at the box office – albeit looking at it from a British and American perspective. Arguably, these two territories carry the most power and influence in the business of film. Long may this new normal of business as usual, continue.
In a week which saw former dermatologist Clare Anyiam-Osigwe become just the 6th Black British female director in over a century to release a feature in UK cinemas, let’s take a deep dive into the numbers behind the film in question (No Shade) and other films helmed by Black British female directors this year. No Shade entered the UK box office chart at no.60, posting a weekend gross of £7.5k from 12 sites including previews. Excluding previews, this yielded a site average of £386.
Of the other 5 Black British female directors, 2 have also had a release this year, albeit not in the UK. Rungano Nyoni, the BAFTA-winning director of I Am Not A Witch (released in 2017), saw her movie released in U.S cinemas 9 weeks ago.
Last weekend, the film grossed $2.9k from 5 sites for a total cumulative gross of $49.4k – a site average of $594. In the UK, the film opened last year with a weekend gross of £24.4k from 16 sites. It ended its 6 week theatrical run with a total cumulative gross of £57.1k.
Amma Asante, another BAFTA-winning director, released her 4th feature, Where Hands Touch back in September following A Way of Life (released in 2004), Belle (released in 2013) and A United Kingdom (released in 2016).
Her latest film grossed $67.7k from 103 sites having only screened for 1 week in the United States – a site average of $658. The film is due to be released in the UK, early next year.
The BBC 2 documentary series Black Hollywood: They’ve Gotta Have Us (which ended its 3 week run last month) interviewed one of the other 6 female directors (Destiny Ekaragha). Her film, Gone Too Far, was released in UK cinemas in October 2014 and grossed £15.8k on its opening weekend from 21 sites, ending its 4 week theatrical run with a cumulative gross of £36.1k.
Of the other 2 female directors, Debbie Tucker Green was nominated for a BAFTA for Second Coming – released in June 2015 with an opening weekend gross of £4.3k from 4 sites. The film ended its 4 week theatrical run with a cumulative gross of £10.1k.
The very first Black British female director (for whom no data is presently available) was Ngozi Onwurah who released Welcome To The Terradome on the 20th of January 1995. A reminder that prior to this date, no Black British female directors in history had ever released a feature in UK cinemas.
Reviewing other titles of prominence this week, Widows opened in the UK on Tuesday with a gross of £249k.
The Hate U Give is ranked just outside the top 10 at 12, posting a weekend gross of £199,141 from 240 sites (£1.45 million cumulative after 2 weeks release). The film remains in the U.S top 10, posting a weekend gross of $3.3million from 1507 sites ($23.4 million cumulative after 5 weeks release).
In the UK, Night School posted £75.7k after 6 weeks release (£4.6 million cumulative). In the U.S the posted $1.9 million from 1271 sites ($74.3 million cumulative after 6 weeks).
The Intent 2, Yardie, and Black kKklansman are still attracting turnover after 7, 10 and 11 weeks respectively at the box office. Cumulative grosses for all 3 films currently stand at £441.2k, £1.14 million and £6.46 million respectively.
Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe is a producer, film columnist, radio broadcaster and award winning film exhibitor who founded the British Urban Film Festival (BUFF) in 2005. Emmanuel is also a jury member of the BAFTA-recognised Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York.