The world of movie directors celebrated a new milestone last weekend as Candyman director Nia DaCosta became the first black female filmmaker to debut at number one at the United States box office. Her new film Candyman had a spectacular opening weekend in which it raked in $22 million between August 27 and 29, thus topping the weekend box office.
The horror flick, an update of the classic 1993 film of the same name, opened in theatres nationwide on Friday to make history. Before Nia DaCosta, the only black female filmmaker that came close to clinching the top spot is Ava DuVernay in 2018 with A Wrinkle In Time, which opened at number 2. The new Candyman overlooks two previous sequels: Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995) and Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999) to set the flick in the present-day, gentrified Chicago.
Co-written by DaCosta, Get Out director Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld, one of BlacKkKlansman’s executive producers, the film stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II of HBO’s Watchmen as protagonist Anthony McCoy, an artist whose career ambitions take him through dangerous places. In DaCosta’s words, “I am such a big fan of the 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.”
Other films 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. Nia DaCosta is preparing to break her own records as she’s currently working on an upcoming Captain Marvel sequel titled The Marvels, which will make her the first Black woman to direct a film for Marvel Studios. She’s also the director of Little Woods, which premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and was released in theatres in 2019. She also directed two episodes of Netflix’s Top Boy.
DaCosta has expressed excitement about the proliferation of Black horror stories and how we 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,” she said.
Candyman’s success at the box office and the historic accomplishment it means for DaCosta is a much-needed thing for the movie industry in these current climes. Theatres are still recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the pandemic does not seem to be letting go. And after being shut down for over a year, it feels good to see theatres opening up with safety measures in place, which means a gradual, eventual comeback is imminent.
The entire movie world has their attention on Nia DaCosta with her upcoming film with Marvel, and it looks to be seen if she will be creating a new record with that one.