When Universal Pictures announced it was doing an R-Rated Live Action Comedy geared toward Black Women, hardly anybody in Hollywood believed it would be a massive hit. Well, that’s before learning who would star in the film and what the film would be be about. Girls Trip raked in $30.4M in its opening weekend, shaming and shocking every person who doubted it’s potential.
David E. Talbert and Tyler Perry have been preaching to the film companies for years… “the money is in Black Women.” Not that Black Women are easily influenced but Black Women provide more spending power in the Black community and Black Women actually take time to investigate products. If those products turn out to be as great as they are promoted, Black Women are more likely to spread the word amongst themselves than any other demo group. It’s like a secret connection that is hard to win because Black Women are not as gullable as many believe. If your product is bad, you would feel the wrath of what this powerful audience can do to your brand.
Malcom D. Lee has scored his second A+ Cinema Score (the first came from The Best Man Holiday) but the real champion in the whole equation is Universal. They invested less than $20M to make the movie and have already earned a huge profit after the first weekend. Girls Trip is also Lee’s highest grossing opening weekend. That spot had been held by The Best Man Holiday. Perhaps the films success is due to the passion from the entire cast working social media, Black radio, and even with Black blog sites to promote the movie. Queen Latifah has 18M followers by herself. The entire cast had been blasting social media for weeks prior to opening weekend and the response was strong across the boards.
One factor that Hollywood will neglet to mention though is the fact that the movie is centered around New Orleans’ Essence Music Festival. In the Black Community, this is the mother of all Black Festivals in America and it’s most commonly known as “Black Girl Weekend”. With the movie being centered around an event which already has the heart of it’s target audience is a recipe for success. Hollywood also underestimated the importance of actors Kofi Siriboe (Queen Sugar) and Lorenz Tate, both highly respected and loved by Black Women. Siriboe was buying out entire movie theaters in New Orleans to give Black Women the opportunity to see the film as a gift from him.
Finally, beyond the talented cast and hilarious content… the real star of the movie was the city of New Orleans itself. Never before has any movie given New Orleans such a positive review from a Black perspective as this one. Fact is, Black People love New Orleans. While it has slowly become ‘Hollywood South’ never has any film been produced in the city that showed the world the true essence of it’s massive social scene from a Black perspective. Essence Music Festival is not only the largest Black Festival in Louisiana. It is the largest Black Music Festival in America, fueled by it’s positive impact on Black Women. It doesn’t make Malcom D. Lee a genius but it does show that he is engaged with his audience and he responded to the interest of the most powerful demo in the Black community… the Black Woman.
For anybody who believes the success of this show had nothing to do with understanding the interest of an audience they are blindly wrong. Snatched, Ghost in the Shell, and Rough Night are all Live Action films released this year targeting women. They all flopped compared to projections. Girls Trip not only beat projections but if it has a following weekend like the previous one it is poised to earn more money alone than all the other films combined.
Black Boot News partnered with radio stations: 100 BLK in New Orleans, Magic 97 in Monroe, and Z105.9 in Lafayette to promote the movie. We asked Black Women to share their ‘Girls Trip Girls Nite’ experience with us. The best picture would earn them tickets to see Janet Jackson in Concert this Fall at Lafayette’s Cajun Dome. We recevied nearly a hundred entries.
Jehane Draper had an amazing experience in Baton Rouge, LA. Her cousin flew from California to Baton Rouge just to go to the movie with her and their family. After the movie, she flew back to California. “My cousin and I used to walk together every morning. We don’t get see each other much anymore because her husband is in the military and they moved to California,” said Draper. “Having her here with us made the whole night even more special. She has been through a lot this year.”
Draper’s cousin lost her mother earlier this year after just recovering from almost losing their home during the catastrophic Baton Rouge flood last Fall. She saw her cousin earlier this year when she returned home to be by her mother’s side before she passed away. “We thoroughly enjoyed the movie and I think movies bring us together for different reasons. This one brought my cousin and I together along with others just because we simply needed a night out and we all enjoy seeing each other,” she explained. “We saw our personalities in each character. I saw myself in two different characters.”
Shenika Freeman attended the movie in Dallas, TX with her friends. Beyond the laughter, she found the movie very empowering. Freeman is a Cancer survivor. She told us she went to the movie wearing a wig but was so inspired by the movie that she took the wig off. “I felt compelled to just be myself,” said Freeman. We don’t have much to hide when we recognize we all have so much in common.
Black Women from all over the region sent us their group pictures. Sororities, Alumni groups, Co-workers, and full families packed out theaters all over Louisiana. Not only did women seem excited to see the hilarious story line but they were even more proud to see Louisiana’s theme city being featured in the film.
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