What Does Jordan Peele’s $100 Million Box Office Haul Mean For Hollywood?
Get Outta here!
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, Get Out, is more than just a great film. It has proven to be a major box office force with its intriguing combination of horror film tropes and smart, weighty writing on race, liberalism and social constructs. And now, Get Out has reached an unthinkable benchmark. Over the past weekend, Get Out surpassed the $100 million revenue mark—with a domestic total of $111 million—not bad for a movie with a modest budget of $4.5 million.
In objective terms, this is a major win for all parties concerned: for Jordan Peele, for Blumhouse, the distributor of the film, for the small-budget film market in general, and for black-led films specifically. Still, it’s hard to say how this success will translate to future opportunities.
It’s Peele who stands to benefit the most. He took a big risk writing this edgy blend of terrifying psychological thriller and social commentary—and it paid off majorly. Not only will Peele get to make more of these “Social Horror” films, as he has discussed wanting to do, but he’s sure to be an in-demand director for all sorts of major studio properties thirsty just a drop of the juice he currently has. It’s a very good position to be in.
This is also good news for Blumhouse: the production company that first came to prominence with the Paranormal Activity series. Jason Blum’s indie film company has brought a lot of popular horror films since then such as Insidious and the third Purge film, while also bringing us Whiplash, another critical darling and successful launchpad for a director—this time Damien Chazelle. Get Out marks the second major box office success for the company this year along with M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, proving that Blumhouse’s bet—that smaller movies made by talented auteurs can still find major success in a filmscape populated by Big Budget noise machines and reheated comic book stories—was a smart one.
Where things start to get dicey is deciding what opportunities this will lead to for other small-budget films and black-led films in particular. With the success of Get Out, as well as other black-led success stories like Hidden Figures and Moonlight, we are now being inundated with another deluge of “now we have proof that black film are profitable” statements—as though that hasn’t been proven time and time again. It feels like every few years when a black film is both beloved by critics and successful money makers, we have this exact conversation about the profitability of black films and yet nothing changes and the cycle repeats itself. There are sure to be more black films to come out soon from different studios but if they don’t achieve a certain number in the box office it’s deemed as an indictment of black led films as a whole.
With indie filmmaking it’s a little more complex. There will always be small independent movies being made, and thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, there are plenty of distribution channels to allow these movies to see the light of day. But the days of medium-scale films at major studios seem to be nothing but a blip on the radar. If it’s not a commercial property or a reboot/sequel there’s not much room anymore for a major studio to take chances on off-the-wall or quiet movies that they would’ve done 20 years ago. Studios like Blumhouse, A24 and Plan B have provided ecosystems for those films to stay alive and give opportunities to artistic-minded directors. Still they mostly exist in very “niche” spaces.
Anyone who expects Hollywood to witness the success of Get Out and take the right lessons away does not know much about the people in charge of the entertainment industry. Some may get the memo that “wokeness” is in, but it would be even better to see more studios give new writer/directors the chance to make something that appeals to the masses while still being thought-provoking. More likely the lessons taken from Get Out will mostly mean shallow imitations of this movie getting green lit. It would be nice to be wrong though.