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Jay-Z’s $40M Comedy-Drama ‘The Book of Clarence’ Tanks at the Box Office. What Went Wrong?

“The Book of Clarence,” the Jay-Z-produced comedy, couldn’t hold off the competition its opening week at the box office. It had a more than disappointing domestic box office opening, earning only a fraction of its hefty $40 million budget. The film opened Jan. 12.

Starring LaKeith Stanfield and featuring an ensemble cast, the biblical comedy, which follows a man imitating the rise of Jesus Christ, struggled to make an impact during its debut weekend, opening at No. 10 on the box office chart. The film’s underwhelming performance raises questions about its ability to recover the mega production costs.

(L-R) Jay-Z attends the Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony for DJ Khaled on April 11, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)/ “The Book of Clarence” image from Sony Pictues

Despite a star-studded cast that includes Omar Sy, Anna Diop, David Oyelowo, and others, “The Book of Clarence,” released by Moris Puccio/Sony Pictures, made less than 10 percent of its budget, according to Screen Rant. The movie’s projected three-day total was $2.57 million, with a four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday total of $3 million. Placing at No. 9 on the weekend chart, the film was competing against new films “Mean Girls,” which was No. 1 and raked in an projected $28,635,307, and “The Beekeeper,” the No. 2 film with a projected box office take of $16,576,007, according to The Numbers.

The film was directed by British singer-songwriter/music producer/filmmaker Jeymes Samuel, who also directed Netflix’s “The Harder They Fall.” Samuel also wrote “The Book of Clarence.”

As things are now, it is doubtful, say Hollywood experts, that “The Book of Clarence” will break even. According to industry standards, a movie typically needs to earn more than double its production budget to be considered financially successful. With the opening weekend gross amounting to just 3.75 percent of the required total, the film may struggle to recover its losses.

It did have several challenges to overcome, such as mixed reviews — reviews on platforms like Rotten Tomatoes hover around 67 percent — and the impact of Winter Storm Gerri on theater closures during the holiday weekend.

What people are saying

9 thoughts on “Jay-Z’s $40M Comedy-Drama ‘The Book of Clarence’ Tanks at the Box Office. What Went Wrong?

  1. Film Time says:

    It looks muddled at best. It’s not a straight, zany comedy like Life of Brian. It’s also hard to understand if it’s a social commentary film or a drama and doubly hard to see how it can fill 90-120 minutes of compelling story when it ping pongs on genre.

  2. Herm says:

    God don’t like ugly and he ain’t keen on pretty 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  3. Rowe Neville says:

    Thus is the first I’m hearing of this

  4. James A. House says:

    I have scripts sent to me for review. JayZ could have produced one for 5M and made 100M. He’s a smart guy, probably write it off.

  5. Up against “blockbuster’ (wyte) competing openings and not well advertised. Re- release possible?

  6. I think things will turn around after all the whoppers. The media is a crazy source, putting down drama only to make people look again. I’ll be going to the movies 🎥 to see myself, and I usually get everything on television 😳🤫. So opinions are like assholes, we all have one ☝🏽

  7. Kelbert says:

    I really enjoyed the movie with a different story line happening at the same time as Jesus ministry. It was light comedy and entertaining for me. And in the end Jesus does what he does best, Loves and Forgives.

  8. Harrell says:

    The trailer seem as though they are mocking God, Jesus, religion, making it comical, immoral and disrespectful. Kind of suited for a weed head, drunkard’s mentality.

  9. Kenneth Daniels says:

    The movie is one of the best of the year. The actors were good. The story of Jesus, the scenery, the people I can see it looking similar to this back in the day of Jesus overall it was a excellent movie

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