Trending Topics

Following Calls of Boycott, Black Celebs Like Tracee Ellis Ross and Kandi Burruss Are Buying Out Screenings of ‘The Woman King’ for Moviegoers to Watch For Free

A number of Black celebrities are making it possible for moviegoers to see “The Woman King” for free.

Thanks to Octavia Spencer, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington, Lena Waithe, Sanaa Lathan, Kandi Burruss, SZA, Jennifer Hudson, Taraji P. Henson, Boris and Nicole Kodjoe, Gabrielle Union, Tina Knowles-Lawson and Luvvie Ajayi, the Sony movie about the West African, all-female warriors tribe is being seen for free at select theaters.

Did Calls for a Boycott Cause a Significant Drop In Sales?

“The Woman King,” a Viola Davis-led movie based on the real-life Agojie tribe of the kingdom of Dahomey (modern-day Benin, Nigeria) between the 17th and 19th centuries, did better than expected at the box office, though after an impressive opening weekend the film saw a significant drop in sales.  Davis stars as a fictionalized leader of the Agojie in the film directed by Black female filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood.

“The Woman King” made $19 million on its opening weekend. The film was plagued with calls for boycotts over the film’s lack of attention to the Dahomey’s slave trading history. The Dahomey people were involved in the Transatlantic slave trade. The Dahomey played a more role in the trafficking of West Africans between the 1680s and early 1700s, selling its captives to European traders, wrote historian Robin Law in The Journal of African History in 1989. Various Black activists called for a boycott of “The Woman King.” This could have caused the major drop off in ticket sales, after its outstanding opening.

For a movie of this caliber, ticket sales usually drop between 50 and 70 percent after its initial first-week showing. The film had a 42 percent drop in its second week, generating more than $11 million. 

Some critics say this occurrence is due to the scolding of the movie’s creative liberties on historical events.

Black Female Celebrities Are Empowering Film’s Success

Part of the film’s initial success was its relatively low budget of $50-55 million and its word-of-mouth marketing. The free admission to see the movie only makes the popularity of “The Woman King” bloom even greater.

It also doesn’t hurt that Black female celebrities are empowering an original movie starring Black women.

Like Davis, Prince-Bythewood said she appreciates the efforts of Black celebrities, saying, “People want to share the feeling the film has given them.” 

“Folks are riding for this film and it is incredibly moving because it means people want to share the feeling the film has given them,” she said.

“But more so there is a palpable feeling of so many rooting for the film because its success touches all of us,” she added. “When one of us succeeds, it keeps the door open for more of us to disrupt the industry with our original stories.”

“The Woman King” scored well with professional critics and goers alike: Critics gave the film an overall 95 percent approval score on Rotten Tomatoes, with an audience score of 99 percent. 

The audience that went to see “The Woman King,” a PG-13 action/adventure movie, was reportedly more mature than expected. More than half of the general audience was older than 35 year old, and some, 39 percent, were older than 45.

Black moviegoers made up 59 percent of the audience, according to Sony.

Back to top