In the most ironic of movie opening weekends, Ryan Coogler’s film, “Fruitvale Station,” made its box office debut against the backdrop of the George Zimmerman verdict decision this weekend and it was a major win at theaters. According to Deadline, the film grossed $377,285 overall, for an impressive average of $53,898 per the seven movie theaters it was shown in during its limited theater release.
“Fruitvale Station,” which stars Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer, tells the story of slain 22-year-old Oscar Grant who was killed by a BART police officer on the platform of an Oakland, California, subway station on New Year’s Day in 2009. The irony of this movie debuting the same weekend George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin was not lost on many, including The Weinstein Company’s President of Theatrical Distribution, Erik Lomi, although he said the quality of the film is what ultimately drew people to theaters:
“It’s a counter-programmer to the summer popcorn fare. It’s a movie that really makes you think and makes you look inside. It has a great message about a tragic situation and we’re proud of the film and the talent. These numbers speak for themselves.”
Regarding the relation to the George Zimmerman case, he said:
“It’s a similar issue and in the public sphere — we didn’t plan that of course. I think our picture has a very important message and we want as many people to see it as possible.”
Director Ryan Coogler also addressed the slaying of Trayvon Martin at the Film Society of Lincoln Center Thursday evening, saying:
“There’s a million Americans that don’t see Trayvon’s potential, they look at him as a thug that got what he deserved, even though he’s a seventeen yeas old boy that couldn’t even vote yet, that had never been arrested never had a criminal record. And my question is why is that? Why do people look at him and see that. We look at him and see something else. We look at him and see us.”
So far, Fruitvale’s opening weekend numbers ranks it as the third-best average of the year in terms of how many tickets were sold per screening. Next weekend, the flick will open in an additional six cities before its nationwide opening the weekend of July 26. Let’s make sure we keep supporting this movie.