The relevance of Django Unchained has been debated by African Americans (and others) on social media for the last month. While some people are eager to see the Quentin Tarantino film that centers around the issue of slavery, others voiced concern over the use of the N-word (100-plus times during the movie). Still others outright panned the flick before it had even hit the theaters. (Looking at you Spike Lee.)
Despite or because of the social media debate, African Americans have turned out in droves to see The Weinstein Company (TWC) film, starring Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington, when it opened on Christmas Day.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that 42 percent of Django‘s initial audience was black, according to exit polling data. “TWC estimates that the percentage now is holding steady at about 30 percent, while a look at the top-performing theaters for Django further confirms that it has crossed over, playing to both white and black moviegoers,” according to THR.
“[African American turned out] because of the hype around the film. There are certain segments of the African-American community that want to be associated with what’s perceived to be ‘hot’ or ‘in’ without any consideration given to the actual merit of the project,” says Gil Robertson IV, founder of the African American Film Critics Association. “Now in this case, although Django was not at the top of my list of things to do over the holidays, I think the interest in the film is good if seeing the film will inspire more African Americans to have healthy dialogue on the history of race and slavery in America.”
According to THR, three of the top ten theaters currently showing Django Unchained draw a mostly black crowd: the Cinemark Egyptian 24 in Baltimore, the AMC Hoffman Center in Alexandria, VA, and the AMC Southlake 24 in Atlanta. Two of the theaters draw a mixed crowd: the AMC Empire 25 in New York City and the Regal Atlantic Stadium 16, also in Atlanta.
Thus far the movie has grossed $77.8 million in North America, and THR speculates that it may just become Tarantino’s most successful film at the domestic box office, passing the $120 million earned by Inglourious Basterds in 2009.
And it seems that both black and white audiences gave the film good reviews. TWC tested Django by holding two simultaneous screenings in New York. “One audience was made up of African Americans, while the other was a mixed audience (about 15 percent was African American). The film received top, identical scores from the two audiences,” writes THR.
Have you seen Django Unchained yet?