Straight Outta Compton has made friends and enemies with its successful box office run, and now it's about to make history. With the current international grosses estimated to hit $38.9 million as of the end of today, it's officially become the highest grossing film directed by an African American director.
The $161.1 million domestic total for the F. Gary Gray directed biopic went a long way towards breaking the previous record of Scary Movie, which grossed $157 million domestically. Telling the story of the formation, and eventual break up, of N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton has had a hell of a run at the box office ever since its premiere this past August. Racking up the fifth highest August opening, as well as an impressive three weekends at the top of the box office, are also huge feathers in the cap of the film's director – especially considering the path he's taken to get there.
For this honor to belong to F. Gary Gray is a pretty fitting achievement, further enriching a career as one of the most influential – as well as one of the most successful – African American directors to work in Hollywood. To his credit, Gray made his debut in feature film directing with Friday back in 1995, and went on to direct such hits as The Negotiator, The Italian Job, and most recently Law Abiding Citizen. With Straight Outta Compton landing him his biggest success yet, and The Hollywood Reporter reminding us of Furious 7's brilliant billion dollar run, Gray won't be celebrating for long as he's setting himself up to break the record yet again.
Thanks to Straight Outta Compton's runaway success, F. Gary Gray landed himself the prestigious gig of directing Furious 8, and just in time for the film to stay on schedule to meet its April 14, 2017 release date. With Furious 7 becoming Universal's first film to cross the $1 billion mark, Furious 8 is on a trajectory to meet, if not beat, that benchmark. Should the seventh sequel in the Fast And Furious franchise live up to its ever escalating history, then Gray will find himself making history yet again.
While Straight Outta Compton's success doesn't mean that Hollywood's problems with better representation of African Americans, as well as all other ethnic and gender groups, are automatically solved – it could be seen as a sign that the market's diversity is starting to pay off. If you'd released this film a decade ago, it might not have hit as well as it did in the current era. With F. Gary Gray paving the way with his successful career, let's hope that more directors of diverse ethnic backgrounds will follow in his footsteps sooner, as opposed to later.
Furious 8 will be released on April 14, 2017; with Straight Outta Compton still waiting for a home video release date.