Over the weekend, Jordan Peele's horror thriller Get Out leapt past The Blair Witch Project (1999) to become the highest-grossing film in United States history based on an original screenplay and helmed by a first-time director.
The demolition of this nearly 20-year record marks what could be a new era in Hollywood, where the box office potential of modestly budgeted original films made by black writer-directors is no longer up for debate.
Get Out was made for $4.6 million, but has made back over 30 times that amount — more than $150 million — at the domestic box office so far, reports Forbes. The film tells the story of Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a black photographer who finds himself confronted by sinister goings-on when he visits his white girlfriend Rose's (Allison Williams) parents one weekend.
Get Out was released on Feb. 24, and comes at a time when racial diversity in Hollywood is a hot-button topic for debate. Central to this conversation is whether multiracial audiences are receptive to films made by and about black people — a question that has historically made Hollywood investors shy away from black films.
But this fear has rarely been grounded in fact. The ongoing success of black films — from Straight Outta Compton to 2016's Moonlight and Hidden Figures — in addition to recent studies showing a correlation between on-screen diversity and high box office earnings, suggests that racial diversity has been an asset rather than a liability.
Jordan Peele's debut film is just a continuation of this pattern. And the film industry that has traditionally shut out voices like his continues to reap the benefits.