Nia DaCosta Makes History as the First Black Female Filmmaker to Debut at Number One in the US Box Office

Source: NPR

The ’90s cult classic Candyman was recently remade into a revitalizing entry in what seems to be a renaissance for the renowned horror film franchise. The 2021 Candyman remake directed by Nia DaCosta became a smash hit among critics and audiences alike, raking in $22 million during its opening weekend, topping the US box office.

This milestone marks the first time ever in Hollywood history where a female filmmaker debuts at number one. Candyman (2021) is a modern update on the 1992 cult classic of the same name, adding a modern touch to the original film, which was lauded for its racial themes and social commentary. Before Nia DaCosta, the only black female filmmaker who came close to clinching the top box office spot is Ava DuVernay with her film A Wrinkle in Time, released in 2018. The film clinched the number 2 spot, only one spot shy from the top.

Candyman (2021) aims to separate itself from the two previous sequels of the esteemed horror franchise: Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995) and Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999), creating its own narrative within present-day, gentrified Chicago. 

The 2021 film is co-written by Nia Dacosta, industry legend Jordan Peele who directed the Oscar-winning film Get Out, and Win Rosenfeld, executive producer of BlacKkKlansman. Candyman (2021) stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II of HBO’s Watchmen. Yahya stars as Anthony McCoy, an artist whose career ambitions take him through dangerous places. 

“I am such a big fan of the original film, so I thought I’d approach it from the perspective of someone who cares about the urban legend and the different ways to tell the stories,” expressed Nia DaCosta. Other films directed by black filmmakers just behind DaCosta and DuVernay’s films in box office debuts are Tina Gordon’s Little, which debuted at $15.4 million, Stella Meghie’s The Photograph, which debuted at $12.1 million and Melina Matsoukas’s Queen & Slim, which debuted at $11.89 million. 

Currently, Nia DaCosta is preparing to break her own records as she’s currently working on an upcoming Captain Marvel sequel entitled The Marvels, which will make her the first Black woman to direct a film for Marvel Studios. Other notable works of DaCosta include Little Woods, a film that premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, which was eventually released in theaters in 2019.

Black horror stories have slowly been taking over Hollywood in recent years. There’s something deeply haunting about the racial horrors that people of color continue to feel to this day. Nia DaCosta has expressed her deep excitement about the proliferation of these stories and how they can tell them without necessarily being about historical racial trauma. “I’m excited to see where else we can go with Black stories and the Black experience. Many Black filmmakers are working on different genres today, and I’m glad to be a part of that,” exclaimed DaCosta.The commercial and critical success of Candyman (2021) is a historic accomplishment and a great sign that the film industry is moving in the right direction in terms of inclusion and diversity within its stories, how they are told, and who gets to tell these stories. 


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