‘Best Man Holiday’ Over-Performing with Possible $35 Million Weekend

Best Man Holiday

Sequel shows hunger for movies targeted to African-American aud

Christmas is coming early for Universal’s “The Best Man Holiday.”

Malcolm D. Lee’s comedy sequel, made for only $17 million, should take in over $30 million at the box office this weekend, wildly exceeding expectations for the Universal film, which were originally pegged in the mid-to-high teens.

Some observers think “Best Man” could top $35 million by Sunday, putting the pic just behind Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” ($37 million) and making it the largest opening for an African-American film since last year’s “Think Like a Man” ($33 million).

Arriving 15 years after the original comedy, “Best Man Holiday” reunites Lee with all of the original cast members, including Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Monica Calhoun and Melissa De Sousa.

The box office performance also sends a message to Hollywood: Make more black movies.

Despite Hollywood’s reluctance to produce African-American films (one reason is their lack of overseas acceptance), black audiences are enthusiastic about franchises like Tyler Perry’s “Madea” franchise and films like the Weinstein Company’s recent success, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

And yet only a few African American movies are actually given the opportunity to test the market.

“If studios are willing to spend the money to build awareness for black movie stars and directors, black American film culture will travel,” producer Stephanie Allain (“Hustle & Flow”) recently told the New York Times.

Fox Searchlight is hoping audiences remain strong this Thanksgiving when it releases the musical drama “Black Nativity,” starring Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson.

Based on the Langston Hughes play, “Black Nativity” opens nationwide Nov. 27.

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  1. I think we can appreciate all without dissing Perry. There is a vast audience that loves Madea…like my grandmother and her girls…They would WALK many miles to see a Tyler Perry movie . To be sure he is branching out and trying to do more than Madea. for instance For Colored Girls, Why Did I Get Married, and others. Country people, (and many urban people), will not let him retire Madea. She reminds them of too many women in their past. Me too. I remember the old lady in our neighborhood who cooked every day and gathered all the neighborhood kids to feed when there parents were at work. Madea exists, you can go to any corporation in America(and especially in the south), and meet a Madea somewhere behind the scenes running things! No lie. Check out Upstairs At The White House. Tyler is giving a lot of people jobs, and wealth. We are diverse- true, and some off us really know people like Madea.
    Loved Best Man, by the way.

  2. twilight08 says:

    I loved this movie this weekend. What we MUST stop doing and saying is STOP listing movies as “URBAN”. It’s a movie like any other movie. Stop putting labels so that only a certain group is suggested of wanting to see it. While others will feel like they will wait to see it at home where no one will see them. Hidden racism. Why can’t we ALL just go, sit down, and enjoy a great story to be told without labels? Yet, all other movies accepts EVERYONE’S dollars no matter the color of the hand paying to see the movie? If we (U.S.) stop the labels other countries will stop for our country has always been The Leader to change. The choice Hollywood is truly yours. It begins with you. GREEN is GREEN all over a universal color.

  3. Lib Ari says:

    Congrats on big debut! Best Man Holiday is sure to please. Nia Long and buddy Sage Blair are long time friends. They will stay together forever. Stay tuned.

  4. dr. candi says:

    i am nervous about black nativity serving as some kind of confirmation of the strength of black movies to pull good box office numbers. these are two different movies; one does not necessitate the box-office success of the other. nor should we judge that one should/shouldn’t be made based on the box-office performance of the other.

    normally, i don’t advocate for a post-racial, we’re-all-the-same lens; however, w/ how i understand the workings of the hollywood system, i do. because as long as white & male films are mainstream to the system, anything else, regardless of genre, is not allowed to succeed or fail at the box office based on the film’s merit. there are sooo many factors that determine a film’s box-office success, that to pin it on the ethnicity of its creators/cast is duly unfair & a trap that is completely limiting/binding and seems to be a bitch of a process to rid ourselves of.

  5. I wish someone would explain to me what urban movies are. My urban area is really diverse, and has over 12% of every major racial group in the US in the population. Would a movie about my city be codified as urban if it was about the white hipster influx?

  6. browngirlu says:

    First problem: Lumping all Black films in the category “urban” as you do above. This movie was a mainstream picture starring a cast made up of mostly Black people. There was nothing “urban” about it. Aren’t we tired of this coded, racialized language? If we don’t change the mindset that ghettoizes all black art into these monolithic categories, why would we expect the international reception to change? It’s lazy and counter-productive and a clear indication that there’s nothing post-racial about America. We can’t even get our arts & entertainment right and no ones willing to change. It’s bigger than the almighty $ though that’s a big part of it. No one took the time to dismantle the entire old racist, sexist Hollywood system in order to build it up as a more diverse and inclusive one (and do away with the tired tokenism). I hope we can begin to do that and see real transformation. This could possibly be quite profitable turn, not just an ethical one. Anyway this was a great film. Let’s not trivialize the great work offered by these filmmakers and actors with out small-mindedness Hollywood.

  7. Debra Thorns says:

    Loved the movie. Went to the matinee in small town in Arkansas, the theater had to open a second screening. The audience was especially vocal when Morris Chestnut showed off that body!

  8. Tearra says:

    This black woman wants more mature smartly written black movies and not the baffonary that has become the Madea franchise. The Best Man Holiday is the type of movie I want more of!

  9. CORRECTION!!! Black audiences want real depictions of their lives that are not rife with stereotypes and show how multi dimensional we are. Unlike the swing low sweet chariot films (The Butler) and step and fetch it films (see the entire Madea franchise), there is a large segment of middle class and upwardly mobile Black Americans regardless of income searching for images that really reflect our depth. I noticed you didn’t name Beasts of a Southern Wild… Please do not lump all “Black film” together. We want more Best Man, Love Jones, Boys in the Hood, (some) Spike Lee joints that are our REAL life and not what the entertainment industry wants to “give” the Black community in order to pacify us when we raise arms about lack of positive and nuanced images in the media… Do better Variety and entertainment industry.

    • ockyj says:

      Well said. I caught how slick the author was in trying to lump those movies together. My friends and I certainly did not rave about any Madea film or the freaking Butler like we are about this film. White audiences loved the Butler. There is a biiiig difference with Best Man Holiday. BIG. And non-black Hollywood insiders/reviewers should stop playing ignorant about it.

  10. Lalita wilkes says:

    I saw the movie I thought it was fantastic I laughed I cried I had a wonderful time

  11. Great movie that didn’t disappoint. It’s only overachieving in the minds of those that don’t care to understand how much the fans of the original offering and of the actors actually support great work, story lines and creative minds. Check out my blog for more >>>http://t.co/pfSGCt55rQ

  12. rcjr says:

    @Citrus Ian, thank you for your thoughtful response. however well written and eloquent, you are flat out uniformed. Writing that the Best Man Holiday is “over performing” is like saying that Mitt Romney was closing the gap in the polls. Again, bullshit. People were “surprised” that President Obama’s margin of victory (In a year where things are not going well home and abroad, especially financially) was so large? Um no. Not for people who were really doing the real research. Personally I canvassed. Knocked on doors. In different states other than my own. I spoke with White folks, Black folks, Latin folks, rich, poor, pretty much everyone. Again I did this in many states. I got to experience first hand the machine that the Obama campaign had built. It was organized (Organizing for America), focused, well funded and had a clear message and goal. That’s the reason he won so handily. It wasn’t a surprise to me. Or to his folks doing the work. They KNEW what the REAL numbers were. Take a breath and examine the marketing, the style of the campaign and the ad dollars being spent and placed and you’ll see that Universal understands and gets what they have in The Best Man Holiday. Partially because they’ve been helped and guided by an informed black film maker/Producer who has been in the studio system and understands it’s strengths, short comings but also understands, like the Obama campaign how to organize, focus and spend the dollars effectively. It’s his “job” to do this. If you do the research (That’s a reporters job and what real journalism is) you’d find evidence and facts beyond the typical company/business line that when Black product kills monetarily that it’s “over performing.” Tyler Perry has been “Over performing” for years now. The “system” didn’t know who he was, didn’t “get him” and didn’t understand his appeal and business model. Bam. Research and real business acumen would have calculated a positive investment/return upside. But, it was Black material. Black audiences. The studios and the business have no real clue of what makes this audience tick and move. Neither does the reporter who wrote this piece. I’ve spent 30 plus years in front of and behind the camera and have made a living doing both. I happened to attend the premiere for The Best Man Holiday last week here at the Chinese Theatre here in Hollywood. First off, it’s a really really good film built on the success of the first one. Which was a hit (and probably “over performed”). Btw, Imo, the sequel is arguably better than the first. Secondly, the roll-out that Universal put on said to this 30 plus year entertainment veteran that they knew/know what they have. Studios don’t throw good money after bad.

    Spend some time in the business. Make some films. Market those films. Work in and out of the studio system. Work in and out of the independent film business. THEN write a synopsis. My friend, it IS about race when it comes to Hollywood and Black material. Yes it’s 2013 and we are still having this conversation. But that’s the real. Not a theory or hypothesis.

    • Am says:

      “It’s a really really good film.”


    • melanie says:

      Great response. These actors work their asses off for little respect while we have the Kartrashians making millions without talent. Studios invest in us when its just trashy,not classy…

      • sam says:

        I don’t think it’s fair to compare this to the last presidential election — to say that you knew what the outcome would be is just hogwash because it was dependent on so many factors — people actually going to vote. Back to the movie, I almost think its better to say a movie is over performing — it’s rather shocking to me that this movie was reported to be outselling Think Like a man in pre-sales (ACTUAL TICKETS BOUGHT) and that grossed 33 million and they still were saying this movie was only going to open maybe at 20 million. This is not a headline reserved for films with black casts, it happens with a lot of other movies where the tracking says otherwise (oblivion and even thor over performed what the expectations were).

  13. Citrus Ian says:

    When they say that the movie is “over-performing” they are referring to the box office estimates made by studio execs prior to the film’s release. As the writer notes, they expected the movie to debut in the mid-to-high teens. It is on track to hit 30, far surpassing expectations.

    Also the point about black movies not doing well overseas is not solely rooted in race. It’s a reality the entire industry faces. Domestic box office receipts often pale in comparison to foreign ones. Even so-called flops like “Battleship” can be saved from being total losses by their strong overseas revenues. With this in mind Hollywood invests an enormous sum of money in projects featuring universal themes and well established properties – aka superheroes and tent-pole action flicks. An explosion means the same thing in every language, as the say.

    Humor and cultural references can be easily lost in translation across international borders, however. As a result there are less original comedies produced. Even “The Heat,” one of the year’s biggest hits, made less than half it’s domestic gross overseas. This same logic transfers to black films – foreign audiences don’t understand the nuances black culture and the comedy derived from it.

    Additionally, with more films being financed by foreign investors, having internationally recognized stars is even more important. Surprisingly, Jason Statham has just about the strongest foreign appeal. This is definitely due to the types of films he make – adrenaline fueled action flicks where the plot and dialogue take a backseat to the guns and fistfights.

    On the whole the movie industry produces less films now than in recent years and the dominant mindset is one of minimizing risk. With less room for error and creativity, and the chance for huge returns on blockbusters like “The Avengers,” it’s easy to understand the lack of diversity in theaters today. Rather than making 10 small to mid sized films, why not make one giant film which will potentially gross over a billion dollars and lead to a ton of licensing?

    Because this strategy is ultimately myopic and fueled by greed. But why fix it if it’s not entirely broken?

    My aim is not to defend Hollywood, but to shed light on a complex issue that cannot be simply boiled down to racism. I would argue that the solution is for the studios to realize that there is worth in films that don’t feature caped crusaders.

    Movies like “Best Man Holiday,” can be made relatively cheaply and resonate hugely with audiences, making a substantial profit. There is ultimately a market and a thirst for this type of film within our society. Were the studios to realize this, they might also start investing in romantic comedies, stories about the baby-boomer set, female driven projects and of course black films. Having more diverse executives would also be key to bringing about this change. But it’s easier said than done.

    • Am says:

      They just have to realize, internally, that producing inexpensive films is more than just a way to make a quarter when they could be making a dollar — its practice enriches the film (and entire media) landscape by creating creative diversity. This ultimately enriches the cultural perception of film, which is a key component to driving profits.

  14. ForRealTho says:

    Its a damn shame, you closed minded ignorant ass white people think black faces starring in films dont sell tickets. WTF do you mean “over performing” as if it should UNDER perform?????

    Black people spend the most money going to the movies yet white hollywood still wants white faces only starring in mainstream films.

    Get your head out your tight asses and recognize this country is not made up of white people only!!!

  15. lilkunta says:

    the movies will do well overseas if marketed properly. there are afro descent ppl in uk, france, spain, mexico, central america, brasil.

  16. coco says:

    iam happy for this movie

  17. Ryan says:

    Just saw it, so well written and acted and a movie for all audiences. Great, great, great!

  18. Peggy says:

    The whole, “they don’t do well overseas” line is BS! Go ask Fred Williamson and Jim Brown. They had been making B-action movies and selling them in all markets all over the world for the last 30 years. How can Hollywood say the world doesn’t like Black people when the ONLY culture you see young people following overseas is BLACK American culture? AKA, Hip Hop??? Hollywood just doesn’t want to spend any money on advertising minority films. And how is it Will Smith has been the #1 movie star in the world the last 10 years? Last time I looked he was black! Hollywood, stop the BS and fund movies with minority casts like you do the white people movies. Stop being racist.

    • jake says:

      He’s honestly not being racist — just go to box office mojo — it’s very rare — outside of a will smith movie that films with black casts as well as comedies in general do not make money overseas — as much as say an action movie. It is supply and demand, this movie needs to continue to do well and I see no reason why it shouldn’t — it is one FANTASTIC MOVIE.

    • TravelGal says:

      Here, here!

  19. Really wish they were just films. Perhaps they don’t “Travel” because they have next to no effort put into making them do so. They often are not released at all, or are given a few screens with next to no marketing, and if it isn’t Will, Denzel, or Morgan, no “stars on TV and radio.

  20. Anybody remember the now classic line senior citizen RUTH GORDON dead-panned when after a very long career in show business, she won a BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Oscar for “ROSEMARY’S BABY?”

    “I can’t tell ya how encouraging this is!”

    I can’t tell you how encouraging THIS is!

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