2018 has been a great year for Black cinema at the box office. With the domestic box office hitting an all-time high of $11.383 billion in 2018 with attendance up 4% from 2017, the top ten feature films by Black directors accounted for a combined $1.363 billion.
Led by Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, which grossed $700M domestically, becoming the #3 all-time domestic-grossing film, other top-grossing films from Black directors include Steven Caple Jr.’s Creed II, which has brought in $113M to date and surpassed its Ryan Coogler-directed predecessor Creed’s domestic take of $109.7M. Next up was Antoine Fuqua’s Equalizer 2, which starred Denzel Washington and grossed $102M domestically. It’s the fourth time these two have worked together and the first time Washington ever reprised a role.
For Ava DuVernay, she became the first Black woman to not only direct a $100M feature with A Wrinkle In Time, but also have the film gross $100M domestically. Rounding out the top 5 of Black directors was Malcolm D. Lee’s Night School. Starring Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish, in her first leading role since breaking out in 2017’s Girls Trip, the film brought in $77M from a budget of $29M.
Rising up the charts before the year is over is Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, which was co-directed by Peter Ramsey. As of now, it’s at $73.7M domestically. Eventually, it will crack $100M, but will it do so before the end of 2018 to make a new record? Once it hits that plateau, it will be his second $100M grossing film following 2012’s Rise of the Guardians ($103M).
Gerard McMurray, whose debut feature was Netflix’s Burning Sands, continued the success of The Purge franchise with The First Purge. Starring Lex Scott Davis and Insecure’s Y’lan Noel, the film grossed $69M. Not too shabby, considering it came out during the 4th of July weekend and was competing against Marvel’s Ant Man and the Wasp, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Incredibles 2. Coincidentally, prior to Burning Sands, McMurray was a co-producer to Coogler’s short film Fig and an associate producer to Fruitvale Station, while Coogler was an executive producer to Creed II.
At $48.21M, Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman represents a milestone for the famed director. The film is now Lee’s second biggest grossing film behind his 2006 blockbuster Inside Man. The film surpassed his 1992 biopic Malcolm X, which had taken in $48.169M domestically. Both Inside Man and Malcolm X starred Denzel Washington, while BlacKkKlansman stars his son John David Washington.
Technically, BlacKkKlansman also became Lee’s biggest film as a producer and co-writer. Inside Man is his only feature length film that he directed without a producing or writing credit.
While it’s not his biggest grossing non-Madea film, Tyler Perry’s Acrimony made the Top Ten among Black directors. Starring Taraji P. Henson, the film brought in $43M at the box office. In previous years, when films had less Black directors and Perry was the only one consistently releasing a film yearly, his films would be among the top five among Black talent.
Finishing off the top ten was Charles Stone III’s Uncle Drew, which starred Lil Rel Howery and NBA star Kyrie Irving with retired NBA players (Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, and Nate Robinson). Tiffany Haddish and Erica Ash played the love interests. With a production budget of $18M, the film grossed $42M domestically.
Besides the top ten, there were a number of feature films from Black directors that are noteworthy for the critical acclaim they garnered and numerous awards they earned but did not top the box office. Overall, there were more films directed by Black talent to hit theaters than ever before. A record amount.
Top 10 Grossing Feature Films (Domestically) of 2018 By Black Directors (Updated)
“Black Panther,” directed by Ryan Coogler – $700M
“Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse,” co-directed by Peter Ramsey – $117M
“Creed II,” directed by Steven Caple Jr. – $113.6M
“The Equalizer 2,” directed by Antoine Fuqua – $102M
“A Wrinkle in Time,” directed by Ava DuVernay – $100M
“Night School,” directed by Malcolm D. Lee – $77M
“The First Purge,” directed by Gerard McMurray $69M
“Black Klansman,” directed by Spike Lee – $48M
“Acrimony,” directed by Tyler Perry – $43.5M
“Uncle Drew,” directed by Charles Stone III – $42.4M
Here’s a list of more 2018 feature films from Black directors:
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” directed by Barry Jenkins
“The Hate U Give,” directed by George Tillman Jr.
“I Am Not a Witch,” directed by Rungano Nyoni
“Monsters and Men,” directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green
“Sorry to Bother You,” directed by Boots Riley
“Widows,” directed by Steve McQueen
“A Boy. A Girl. A Dream,” directed by Qasim Basir
“Alpha,” directed by Albert Hughes
“Slender Man,” directed by Sylvain White
“Where Hands Touch,” directed by Amma Asante
“Where Is Kyra?,” directed by Andrew Dosunmu
“Superfly,” directed by Director X
“Nobody’s Fool,” directed by Tyler Perry
“Traffik,” directed by Deon Taylor
“Jinn,” directed by Nijla Mujin
“Armed,” directed by Mario Van Peebles
“The Cloverfield Paradox,” directed by Julius Onah
“Hot Summer Nights,” directed by Elijah Bynum
“Roxanne Roxanne,” directed by Michael Larnell
“Love Jacked,” directed by Alfons Adetuyi
“Vaya,” directed by Akin Omotoso
“Step Sisters,” directed by Charles Stone III
“Number 37,” directed by Nosipho Dumisa
“The Young Karl Marx,” directed by Raoul Peck