How Bad Is It for Black Directors in Hollywood: The 10 Highest Grossing African American Directors of All Time

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The 10 Highest Grossing Black Directors of All Time, and the Little-Known Highest Grossing Black Female Director

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | November 18, 2013 | Comments ()


The number one film at the box office this weekend was no real surprise: Thor: The Dark World held on to the spot in its second week, adding another $38 million, bringing its total to $138 million, so far. Look for it to have a precipitous drop next weekend facing Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The real surprise of the weekend, however, was the showing of Best Man’s Holiday, which racked up a tidy $31 million, despite the 15 year gap between sequels (in fact, it nearly surpassed the entire box-office haul of the original The Best Man ($34 million) in its opening weekend alone).

That’s a big win for Malcolm D. Lee, sadly one of the few successful African American directors in Hollywood. In fact, with the success of The Best Man Holiday, Lee leaps to number seven all time among African American directors in terms of total lifetime box office. Here’s the top 10.

10. Carl Franklin — $145 million

9. Lee Daniels — $164 million

8. Allan and Albert Hughes — $178 million

7. Malcom D. Lee — $208 million (and growing)

5. F. Gary Gray — $370 million

6. Antoine Fuqua — $380 million

5. Spike Lee - $374 million

4. Keenan Ivory Wayans — $400 million

3. John Singleton — $465 million

2. Tim Story — $490 million

1. Tyler Perry — $674 million

That’s it. A black director today could make one (1) $145 million grossing film and break the top 10 all time. In the top 307 directors of all time, based on lifetime box office gross, these are the only 10 black directors represented.

How about black female directors? Can you name the highest grossing female black director of all time? Think about it. Think about it really hard. Can you even think of one black female director?

I’ll give you a second


The highest grossing black female director of all time is Angela Robinson, who has amassed a whopping $66 million over her career. Ninety-nine percent of that gross came from one movie, Herbie: Fully Loaded. The only other black female director to even have $60 million lifetime gross over her entire career is Gina Prince-Blythwood, who directed (the awesome) Love and Basketball. What does that say about Hollywood? It sucks to be a black director. But it sucks even worse to be a female black director.

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