Atop this weekend’s box office tally is the latest installment of the tired horror franchise Paranormal Activity. That film brought in $30.2 million in its opening week. And, according to E! Online, Tyler Perry’s latest film, Alex Cross, based on the James Patterson novel, flopped, coming in fifth with $11.2 million, lower than his lowest-grossing film, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls.
But despite those numbers, it’s an indie film made by an African-American woman that’s generating lots of talk, including an endorsement from the lady, Madame Oprah.
Middle of Nowhere by Ava DuVernay was made for just $200,000 (minuscule by Hollywood standards) and opened on October 12 in just six theaters. But the film averaged $13,055 on each of those screens, giving it the best outcome of the weekend. This weekend, the film expanded to 21 theaters in 14 cities and made more than $54,000. It has grossed $127,137 so far, says IndieWire, and will be showing in additional theaters this coming weekend.
DuVernay is not just a filmmaker, but helps to run the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AAFRM), an organization dedicated to black indie filmmakers. (Note that ImageNation, the subject of one of our recent profiles, is highlighted on their site as well.) Earlier this year, DuVernay became the first African-American woman to take home the Best Director prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
“The weekend was electric as Middle of Nowhere enjoyed sold-out shows with both diverse crowds in NYC and LA, and predominately African-American audiences in Washington DC and Philadelphia,” the AAFRM’s Tilane Jones told The Hollywood Reporter.
Oprah Winfrey has also thrown her support behind the film, tweeting to her 14 million followers that this is a film to see. ”Bravo to you my sistah,” she’s written.
DuVernay was a publicist when she came up with the idea for Middle of Nowhere, a film about a Compton nurse named Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi) whose husband Derek (Omari Hardwick) is in prison. She decided to strike out on her own to make the film, and is now being credited with giving a shock of life to the black indie film scene. (She has also made another film, I Will Follow.) Reviews in top-tier publications like The New York Times have been positive.
“There’s something very important about films about black women and girls being made by black women. It’s a different perspective. It is a reflection as opposed to an interpretation, and I think we get a lot of interpretations about the lives of women that are not coming from women,” DuVernay told the AP.
Have you seen Middle of Nowhere? Let us know what you thought. And let us know if you plan to see it.