I’ve been uniquely interested in “Obsessed” since its trailer was released a few weeks ago. Aside from the fact that Ali Larter is hot, Beyonce is hot and Idris Elba is Idris Elba, the casting of the movie seemed very deliberate. I haven’t seen a mainstream movie about a black couple antagonized by a white woman.
After I watched the trailer I got to thinking whether this was some sort of watershed movie or whether it signaled some sort of shift in filmmaking demographics. I’ve been saying for quite some time, regardless of the quality of his films, Tyler Perry is one of the most significant filmmakers working right now (and I haven’t seen one of his movies). Just look at his numbers. He doesn’t get any studio love. Save for Lionsgate. I understand he’s not a very good filmmaker either. My colleagues Travis Hudgons and Brian Egeston don’t seem to think so.
“Sometimes, for black folks, it doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be,” Egeston has said to me numerous times.
Assuming that’s true, it could explain the great success of “Obsessed,” which was predictably trashed by critics. The movie managed to make $28.5 million in its first week, already besting its small $20 million budget. No other movie came close, particularly movies that also opened Friday. Ironically, it’s written by David Loughery, a white screenwriter whose last film also tackled chancy racial material: “Lakeview Terrace,” starring Patrick Wilson, Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington.
I would love an opportunity to look at ticket buyers’ demographics for this one. Did the black community come out and drop a total of $28.5 million on this movie? Or did Beyonce help attract a racially mixed audience? Or did a racially mixed audience naturally gravitate toward the movie? And if that’s the case, is that significant? Can we anticipate more movies that invert Hollywood’s typical racial conventions (which are frequently, underhandedly racist no matter what George Clooney thinks).
Regardless, black screenwriter John Ridley seems to think “Obsessed” is the most important film in a decade. Ridley, in a kind of rambling column in The Wrap, argues the same shit I’ve been curious about.
THE REST OF THE TAKE: APRIL 24-26
1. “Obsessed” — $28.5 million — One week, $28.5 million
2. “17 Again” — $11.7 million — Two weeks, $40 million
3. “Fighting” — $11.4 million — One week, $11.4 million
4. “The Soloist” — $9.7 million — One week, $9.7 million
5. “Earth” — $8.6 million — One week, $14.2 million (not sure how that happened)
6. “Monsters Vs. Aliens” — $18.5 million — Five weeks, $174.8 million
7. “State of Play” — $6.9 million — Two weeks, $25.1 million
8. “Hannah Montana: The Movie” — $6.4 million — Three weeks, $65.6 million
9. “Fast and Furious” — $6.1 million — Four weeks, $145.2 million
10. “Crank: High Voltage” — $2.4 million — Two weeks, $11.5 million