The Secret to ‘Woman King’s’ Success (and Why a Sequel Shouldn’t Be Ruled Out)
The film’s producer, Nicole Brown of TriStar, claims that it “may be a door opener for more Black stories to be shared.”
Hollywood studio rivalry is ferocious and savage as a spear. Most movies’ opening weekend is when competing executives make their evaluations (and snipe). That wasn’t the case with The Woman King, an epic action-adventure starring Black women that debuted to a higher-than-anticipated $19.1 million over the weekend of September 16–18 in the US box office.
Josh Greenstein, co-chairman of Sony Motion Picture Group, claims that “usually, everyone is working against you.” “That’s really true, but for this one, everyone is cooperating. It’s a victory for Hollywood,” TriStar CEO Nicole Brown, who oversaw the film, said in a Sept. 20 joint interview with Greenstein with The Hollywood Reporter.
An ensemble cast of dark-skinned Black women stars in an action-historical drama that has never been attempted by a major Hollywood studio. Woman King is a momentous occasion for diversity, just as Black Panther, Girls Trip, and Crazy Rich Asians were among the movies that served as such.
Following its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, a venue for Oscar fare, the film, featuring Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis, easily topped the box office rankings.
If you don’t spend money on opening weekend, you won’t see, as I stated on #TIFF.Net. A film with a black female lead once more. On September 18, Davis tweeted, “Please keep supporting #TheWomanKing, presently playing exclusively in theatres.
Moviegoers actually did that. The positive start was made possible by older ladies, in particular older Black females, a demographic that has been the least likely to visit theatres since the pandemic. Tracking had predicted that Woman King wouldn’t gross more than $15 million to $18 million at the box office.
According to PostTrak, Black moviegoers greatly over-indexed in accounting for 56 percent of ticket purchases, followed by Caucasians (23 percent), Latinos (15 percent), Asians (3 percent), and Other (6 percent). Females made up 58 percent of Woman King’s audience.
Hollywood loves to follow success with success, and I believe this movie is unquestionably a hit. Therefore, I’m happy and thrilled that Woman King may open the door for the telling of additional black stories. I concur, says Brown.
Both audiences and critics adore Woman King. The movie is only the second release of 2022 to receive an A+ CinemaScore, following the huge hit Top Gun: Maverick. The film has a great chance of expanding its audience in the coming weeks thanks to its A+ rating, current Rotten Tomatoes critics score of 93 percent, and outstanding exits. Additionally, if Woman King receives the most Oscar nominations, word-of-mouth will be strengthened.
A seasoned Hollywood investor continues, “The Woman King has a lot of action. In the upcoming weeks, that action might help draw in younger moviegoers and men. More crucially, the film’s calibre and the anticipated positive word-of-mouth could enable it to expand beyond its target audience.
When Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman chose Brown to oversee TriStar, she prioritised Woman King because she was the first Black woman to hold the position. The $50 million historical adventure film about the Agojie, an all-female army in the West African Kingdom of Dahomey during the 18th and 19th centuries, has been rejected by several studios.
When Brown told marketing and distribution guru Greenstein that she intended to create the female Black Gladiator, he advised her to go for it (producer Cathy Schulman had previously received a $5 million budget when presenting the movie to STX). A script by Dana Stevens, based on a tale by Maria Bello and Stevens, was chosen for Gina Prince-Bythewood to direct. To reduce their risk, Sony and Tri-Star also found eOne Entertainment to be a co-financing partner.
“We wanted to convey a story that had universal appeal when we went out to make this movie,” adds Brown. “Gina and the rest of the team delivered. It is a significant accomplishment.
According to Greenstein, selling a historical adventure that isn’t based on an already-existing IP or book is no easy task. “The opening demonstrates the strength of the core audience, which is primarily made up of Black people, as well as moviegoers in general. People prefer to watch a variety of movies, claims Greenstein, pointing out Sony’s successful track record of producing original pictures while under Rothman’s leadership.