‘All Eyez on Me’: With a Strong Box Office Debut, Another Diverse Film Gets Underestimated

All Eyez on Me
Courtesy of Summit

When “Straight Outta Compton” opened in August of 2015 to over $60 million — about $20 million more than most trades predicted — a conversation sparked about the industry’s failure to properly track movies that target people of color.

“You can’t track black,” Jeff Clanagan, CEO of CodeBlack Entertainment said in a 2015 Variety report.

Almost two years later, it seems not much has changed.

All Eyez on Me,” a biopic of Tupac Shakur from Lionsgate and Summit, is expected to earn just over $27 million in its opening weekend. That’s above most estimates, which had it in the $17 million to $22 million range earlier in the week, but below the $30 million it was projected to score as recently as Saturday. “All Eyez on Me” won’t break any box office records, but for a movie with a $45 million budget, that’s a solid opening. What’s more noteworthy, though, is just how “unpredictable” it has been.

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The same can be said for Jordan Peele’s socially conscious horror thriller “Get Out,” starring Daniel Kaluuya. The breakout hit from early 2017 has now made over $250 million worldwide. There’s also “Hidden Figures,” which, in addition to its three Oscar nominations, earned over $230 million globally. And it’s not just films with black leads — in April of this year, “How to Be a Latin Lover” starring Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez pulled a “surprise upset” over “The Circle” led by the A-list duo of Tom Hanks and Emma Watson. These examples and others have all played out since “Straight Outta Compton” made its $200 million run.

“All Eyez on Me” didn’t get much help from critics — its aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes stands at only 24%. It was also known as a troubled production. A Vulture report detailed how it was first conceived in 1997, and landed in theaters two decades later having weathered multi-million dollar lawsuits and writer and director changes. While it did receive support from some key celebrities, others like Jada Pinkett Smith and John Singleton were outspoken in their criticism of the film and its portrayal of Shakur. Upon finishing the shoot, producer L.T. Hutton posted a message on Instagram that summed up the journey in all caps: “HARD WORK PASSION, DETERMINATION AND PERSISTENCE !!! GOT IT DONE !!! POINT BLANK !!!!”

And fans showed up. Advance ticket sales were one positive indication that the movie would perform well. And the release date, pegged to what would have been Shakur’s 46th birthday, helped it post especially large numbers on Friday, and in Thursday previews when it topped weekend winner “Cars 3.”

A number of recent studies have found that African Americans make up a disproportionate number of theatergoers, and diverse films perform better at the global box office than those with less diverse casts. A recent report from UCLA titled “2016 Hollywood Diversity Report: Business as Usual?” found that Hollywood’s failure to present more diverse casts is potentially costing the industry billions of dollars.

Still, the industry is continually “surprised” when a diverse film performs better than expected. Be it a lack of resources invested into finding better ways to track these movies, the changing ways that information spreads about movies in the social media era, or any other number of factors, it is in everyone’s best interest to catch up. The industry still may not be able to “track black,” but when will it start trying?

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  1. Lydia says:

    All Eyez on Me will be one of the most successful movies this year. No it’s not for the people who think they are Tupacalogists. But it conveys the message and presents the voice that needed to be heard. Thanks for presenting the story, and thanks for introducing us to Mr Shipp. I pray his wisdom, favor and protection as he continues his acting career. Hang in there my young brother and God Blessings toward you and your family. Thanks to the production and director.

  2. Jake says:

    The movie had a Martin Scorsese feel to it because it was fast paced and dramatic. Very accurate however it seems like it was a little bit rushed. It’s almost like the movie was made for only the fans that know everything about tupac. But Demetrius Shipp Jr. Killed it as Tupac but I now see why director John Singleton who was a friend of Tupacs backed out of the movie because he said they’re not taking it on the right direction. It’s still worth a watch I’d watch it again but as a die hard fan the writers and producers did one of the greatest people of all time a little bit dirty if you ask me. BTW I’m a die hard fan of Tupacs and I am white.

  3. Carlos Worm says:

    This narrative resembles the realities of Black Wallstreet, in the early 30s. A successful black community in Tulsa, Okla that had many successful black owned businesses. So prominent that the white community conjured up a sex charge, created a riot and eventually burned the city down. When Spike Lee first got started with his films, the movie houses would put another movie title on the ticket to make his movie $$$ go down. Nothing will ever change in WHITE Hollyweird. They have set fires to Tyler Perry’s studios on more than one occasion, because he is a successful Blackman. They know that with the right setting, good writing and an interesting theme, a predominately black cast can be a success. All the black multi-millionaires have lto pitch in and back some of the up and coming movies. Otherwise, STOP BITCHING. This isn’t 30 years ago, Too many Rich black Americans for that bs. Why would rich/white/Hollyweird want a successful black industry to flourish? That i what All Eyes on Me is about??? Duh!!!

    • Enoughsaid says:

      Exactly! The more things change, the more they say the same. Black people are very smart, talented, and gifted. This is the reason our ideas are always stolen. SMH!

  4. Robbie says:

    What a load of horses**t. The movie was projected last week to make $33m and Lionsgate kept saying itself that this was too high of a number, so no, no one underestimated it except for Variety.

  5. Robert West says:

    I’m thrilled you explored “diversity” beyond the black/white dynamic it’s relegated to. It’s baffling that we’re still encouraging Hollywood to represent ALL people with rules that are substantive. Black, White, Latino, Asian, LGBT, disabled and others are equally as fascinating, and we should ALL support depictions of them beyond stereotypical renderings.

  6. Tarrin curtis says:

    The movie was good. Don’t believe the hype if your a true 2pac fan you will love it. go out and support it.

  7. Jack Monte says:

    The film didn’t hit what it was being projected on Saturday because the word is out that it isn’t good. Might as well watch a Tupac documentary than bad lip synching and fantasy highlights of what his life was. Watch that second weekend drop-off.

  8. Nick says:

    Old fat white guys telling you that a movie about an outspoken successful minority sucks. Hmm…sounds really honest… lol.

  9. Nanette Johnson says:

    I saw the movie alone yesterday, and then took my teen aged son and his friend to see it today. The kids didn’t want to see it, because they had heard from the internet that it was a terrible movie. After seeing it yesterday, I told my son it was pretty good. They had heard all kinds of ridiculous nonsense about the movie. Really stupid things like Tupac had an i-phone and Biggie and Pac had an Instagram beef in the movie. Back in the 90’s? Seriously? I was stunned that they would believe anything so stupid,considering they are in High School, smart kids and good students. But then I remembered the whole political environment and realized that people are too ready to believe anything, whether it makes sense or not. After assuring them none of that was true. I took them. They really enjoyed the movie, and left saying, like many people in the theater,both times I went, ” Why does everyone keep saying this is a bad movie?”

    People should see the movie themselves and decide what they think. Everyone is too willing to let everyone else make decisions for them about what they think. Only YOU can decide what you like and don’t like. Had I let negative reviews keep me away, I would have missed out on something I really enjoyed.

  10. Kiriiiii says:

    This movie isn’t going to be a hit. Certainly not like Straight Out of Compton or Hidden Figures were. The biggest factor being the awful critic response and low Audience response. Those have been known to puncture a movie’s life cycle especially after initial release. What you have is a higher than expected opening because two factors. 1) Tupac’s Anniversary 2) People who loved his music (mainly older people) watching this. The younger audience will be less, it may score a higher percentage from the Black American community but it suffers from being criticized by select people who were apart of the late rapper’s life. Mirroring the fate of the Aaliyah story. I can guarantee second week will see a huge downward decline for the film especially with Transformers coming out. This movie will have to compete against Cars, Wonder Woman, Transformers for top spot. It won’t succeed regardless of the greater number opening weekend it made.

  11. Richard M. says:

    So Many MOVIE CRITICS Are Total Losers. Many of them are dangerous social-paths who wish they could be filmmakers. TRUTH.

  12. Ellie says:

    Oh, my, gosh! A movie opening was mis-estimated!

  13. loco73 says:

    Could it be that it’s just not a very good movie rather than being underestimated because of diversity?

  14. Once again, Variety writes an article declaring a movie to be a hit due to “diversity” when it’s anything but a hit. “All Eyez on Me” cost $45m to produce and let’s just guess $20m to promote, making it a $65m price tag when it’s all said and done. Since studios get 50% of a ticket price and movie theaters get the other 50%, this film will have to make $130m to break even. It only made $27m in its opening weekend. Since it won’t do well overseas and will have a steep drop in its second weekend, this film will be lucky to make $60m by the time it leaves the theaters, which means it’s a financial failure and studios will think twice about making films about this subject matter in the future.

  15. Another big WIN for diversity!

    • Unknown says:

      Not really…the article is ignorant & short-sighted on several regards in its analysis. ‘All Eyez on Me’ isn’t a hit by means in the overall consensus when you get down to it.

  16. jlinn says:

    Sorry I haven’t read the article yet, which isn’t necessarily fair, but off the top of my head, how many box office prognosticators aren’t white men? How many tracking companies aren’t headed by white men? Box Office Guru is the only website that springs to mind that isn’t run by a white guy, but I don’t know if I would say he has his finger on the pulse of the African American movie going community. He tends to get Indian/Bollywood openings closer to right that most sites, go fig! ;) In this day and age of bloggers and bloggers I’m sure there are several forecasters of all stripes and colors, I just don’t read them all, but I’m will to bet all of the major ones, save for Guru, are run or written by white guys.

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