How Bad Is It for Black Directors in Hollywood: The 10 Highest Grossing African American Directors of All Time
The top movie at the box office over the weekend was Think Like a Man, a much better movie that most would’ve expected. Think Like a Man, which opened with $33 million, was directed by Tim Story, one of the very few successful black directors in Hollywood. How bad is it for black directors? Over their entire careers, these are the 10 most successful black directors in terms of box-office.
10. Carl Franklin — $123 million
9. Forest Whitaker — $136 million
8. Allan and Albert Hughes — $178 million
7. Antoine Fuqua — $281 million
6. F. Gary Gray — $370 million
5. Spike Lee - $374 million
4. Keenan Ivory Wayans — $400 million
3. Tim Story — $432 million
2. John Singleton — $465 million
1. Tyler Perry — $557 million
That’s it. A black director today could make one (1) $124 million grossing film and break the top 10 all time. In the top 300 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 a black female director?
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. Of course, it’s not much better for black female actresses. Who are the two highest grossing black female actresses of all time? Queen Latifah, but most of her box-office grosses come from the Ice Age movies, in which her face is not seen, and Zoe Saldana, though half of her lifetime box office comes from one movie< Avatar, in which she is blue. (It’s much better for black men: Four of the top 15 highest grossing actors of all time — Eddie Murphy, Will Smith, Morgan Freeman, and Sam Jackson — are black).
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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