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After a lackluster blockbuster season last year, the box office numbers are up quite a bit this summer. It's clear that all of the superheroes, dinosaurs, and Tom Cruise's have pulled their weight, but what you might not have realized is the impact of a lot of smaller films - from riveting documentaries to audience-friendly indies. One of those smaller films is Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman. Although not matching the performances of broader appeal films like The Meg or Crazy Rich Asians, Spike Lee's latest effort has sneakily been doing quite well, making a lot of money and becoming the auteur's biggest success in over a decade.
Since its release on August 10th, BlacKkKlansman has earned $33.6 million domestically, and over $42 million worldwide. That might not seem like a lot, but you have to take into consideration that the production had a budget of only $15 million, and recognize how it compares to the performances of Lee's biggest titles. The $33.6 million domestic box office already makes the movie the fourth most successful Lee jaunt, according to Box Office Mojo. Above BlacKkKlansman are The Original Kings of Comedy with $38.2 million; Malcolm X with $48.2 million; and the much more commercial Inside Man with $88.5 million. It also had the third-best opening of Spike Lee's oeuvre, with $10.8 million - and it has only dropped a little over 30% each weekend since its debut. So, BlacKkKlansman is among Spike Lee's biggest successes already and it's still playing in nearly 2000 theaters nationwide.
There are probably a number of factors that have contributed to BlacKkKlansman's success, including the entertaining trailer, the timeliness of this true story, and the fact that onscreen diversity has proven time and time again this year that it pays dividends at the box office. The reviews have also been very positive, netting Spike Lee some of the best notices of his acclaimed career, and likely setting the film up for some awards season consideration. Basically, you shouldn't pass up this one.
It's great to see Spike Lee not only back in top form artistically, but also making the kind of opinionated statements he is known for while having audiences respond to something that is different than the rest of the choices at the multiplex. BlacKkKlansman stars John David Washington as an African-American police officer in Colorado Springs in the 1970's named Ron Stallworth, who, along with his partner played by Adam Driver, infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan. The film also stars Laura Harrier and Topher Grace as KKK Grand Wizard, David Duke.
Next up for Spike Lee, after the awards circuit of course, may be Nightwatch. The director has been linked with one of Sony's many in-the-works Spider-Man spinoff films in its nascent cinematic universe, but there have been no formal announcements as of yet. BlacKkKlansman is now playing. Check out our release schedule for all of the films still to come this year.