The adventures of four Black female friends attending the annual Essence Festival in New Orleans, La., has struck comedic gold at the box office.
“Girls Trip” looks to post $30.4 million from 2,591 locations, making it the largest opening of any live-action comedy so far in 2017. The film took the no. 2 spot at the box office this weekend, following Christopher Nolan’s”Dunkirk.”
“Girls Trip” starring Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish is distributed by Universal Pictures (a division of Comcast NBCUniversal No. 19 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list).
“Funny is funny. And it’s a really funny movie,” said Universal’s President of Domestic Distribution Nick Carpou, who told Variety that the $30 million number is an increasingly rare accomplishment for pure comedies.
“Girls Trip” earned significantly more at the box office during opening weekend than other R-rated comedies in 2017 such as “The House” starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, whichopened to only $9 million.
“Baywatch” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson opened on Memorial Day Weekend and earned $18.5 million, and “Snatched” starring Amy Schumer opened to $19.5 million.
“Rough Night,” starring Scarlett Johanssen as the lead of a predominantly white cast, is most similar to “Girls Trip” in regard to the storyline. A group of girlfriends hire a male stripper for a bachelorette party in Miami and mayhem ensues. The film opened to $8 million domesticon June 16, and has only earned roughly $22.2 million.
Much like a lesson of the film, never underestimate the value of African American talent.
UCLA’sHollywood Diversity Reportreleased in February examined the 200 top-grossing film releases in 2015 and found that movies with relatively diverse casts enjoyed the highest median global box office receipts and the highest median return on investment.
The cast of “Girls Trip” reflects what moviegoers want to see as the report also states that people of color bought nearly half (45 percent) of all movie tickets sold in the United States in 2015.
“Our four leads are excellent,” Carpou told Variety. “If they make you laugh you’re likely to tell your friends. That’s what’s happening here.”
“Girls Trip,” produced by Will Packer (“Ride Along” and “Think Like a Man” franchises, “Almost Christmas”) and directed by Malcolm D. Lee, had its world premier at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in June.
The American Black Film Festival is an annual event dedicated to supporting the work of emerging Black artists.
Preceding the screening, Packer told the audience that he pitched his idea for a film starring Black women in the tradition of “Bridesmaids” and “The Hangover,” an R-rated comedy that earned over half a billion dollars worldwide.
The project interested Lee, who is a cousin of director Spike Lee, and he came on board.
“What an opportunity to deliver something to an underrepresented audience and what better place to set it than Essence, the only festival in the world that celebrates Black women,” Malcolm Lee said.
Hall, who is the lead in the film, was also present at the film festival.
Carpou noted that the “Girls Trip” marketing campaign and Lee’s ability to make films that “resonate,” have contributed to audiences flocking to see the movie.
The cast members have also been active in promoting the film. Hall, Queen Latifah, Pinkett Smith and Haddish all attended the 2017 Essence Festival, for example, and also have been promoting the film via social media.
Queen Latifah tweeted on Sunday:
Thank you so much for everyone else showing up and showing out for a Girls Trip! This movie is not to be missed!!!!
Queen Latifah (@IAMQUEENLATIFAH) July 23, 2017