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The Year in Black Cinema Box Office: 33+ Films Released Theatrically (How Many of Have You Seen?)

The Year in Black Cinema Box Office: 33+ Films Released Theatrically (How Many of Have You Seen?)

It’s that time of the year when I start to collect data on “The Year in Black Cinema” broadly speaking, with 1 month left until we usher in a new year of movies. Below you’ll find a list of all the “black films” that have been released theatrically this year, 2015, in order of box office gross, from the highest grosser to the least.

How do I define “black film”? As I’ve always done, I’m considering films whose central narratives revolve around the lives of people of African descent. The writer and/or director does not have to be of African descent. I’m most interested in the story that’s told, and what we see on the screen, not behind it. Some day that might change, but if only for the sake of simplicity, this is the criteria on which the below list is based.

Some of them are debatable; for example, is Will Smith’s character’s story at the center of “Focus”? I say, yes. So I included “Focus” on the list. There are other buddy pairings like Kevin Hart in both “The Wedding Ringer” and “Get Hard,” but I’d argue that Hart, while a star of each, isn’t central to either of those movies. His characters in both films serve more as fulcrums for his white co-stars. For example, in “Get Hard,” Will Ferrell’s character is the base from which the story leaps: he’s been convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison, and enlists the help of Hart’s character to help toughen him up (hence the title of the movie) and get him ready for his stretch in San Quentin. So I didn’t include either “Get Hard” or “The Wedding Ringer” on this list.

Is “Secret in Their Eyes” Chiwetel Ejiofor’s film? Or is it more Julia Roberts’? Or is the wealth spread around? I didn’t include it on this list, however.

And there’s also “Lila & Eve,” which I did include. While the title suggests a buddy flick, those who’ve seen it know that it isn’t quite what you initially think it is. But I can’t say anymore because I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it.

But it’s all very *uncertain*, this struggle of defining what a “black film” is or isn’t. I wish I didn’t have to make these distinctions; alas, this is the state of things. Although feel free to argue against my criteria. I’m not necessarily married to them. If we can collectively come up with a consensus definition of what “black film” is, I’m certainly in favor of that.

All that said, there might be one or two films that I missed during my research in coming up with this list – especially those *smaller* films that I may not at all be familiar with. But I feel quite confident that I got the overwhelming majority of them. But if I did miss any, feel free to mention in the comment section – as long as it meets my above guidelines. 

I should also mention that “Chi-Raq,” “My Friend Victoria,” and “Concussion” are what’s left for the year, in terms of upcoming “black film” releases during the month of December. So early next year, I’ll publish a final 2015 box office list.

Finally, I’m sure a film like “Creed,” which just opened last week, will move up on the below list. It’ll be interesting to see if it can catch “Straight Outta Compton” or “Home,” which occupy the top 2 slots currently. 

There are likely a few films on this list some of you may have never even heard of, or heard of, but not seen; so use the list as a guide for what you still have to watch. As I receive more data, I’ll update the list accordingly.

Next to each title is the distribution company name followed by total domestic box office thus far.

1 – Home Fox $177,397,510
2 – Straight Outta Compton Uni. $161,058,685
3 – San Andreas WB $155,190,832
4 – War Room TriS $67,547,091
5 – The Perfect Guy SGem $56,952,091
6 – Focus WB $53,862,963
7 – Creed WB $42,600,000
8 – Dope ORF $17,506,470
9 – Timbuktu Cohen $1,076,075
10 – Tangerine Magn. $702,354
11 – Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution PBS $488,172
12 – Brotherly Love Free $478,595
13 – Freetown Purd. $387,130
14 – The Man in 3B Free $267,214
15 – Carter High PN $218,901
16 – Chocolate City Free $212,662
17 – Samba BG $151,530
18 – A Ballerina’s Tale IFC $96,900
19 – Beasts of No Nation BST $90,777
20 – Blackbird Imag. $78,400
21 – Girlhood Strand $60,765
22 – Difret TA $49,667
23 – Lila & Eve Gold. $38,263
24 – 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets Part. $30,407
25 – Rubble Kings Sab. $7,416
26 – Horse Money CGld $6,508
27 – Mediterranea IFC $5,846
28 – Black November P4 $5,782
29 – Salvation Army Strand $3,929
30 – blackhats R1 $3,216
31 – Sembene! KL $2,326
32 – Sneakerheadz SD $1,903
33 – Ayanda ARRAY No box office numbers yet
34 – Out of My Hand ARRAY No box office numbers yet

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