The Woman King is the weekend box office monarch

Whenever you think about the sword and sandal genre, you can't help but correlate it to whiteness. Sure, some of the greatest and most entertaining films of all time are within the subgenre's bracket, but they're all incredibly white. This isn't to say those stories are flawed, but I've always felt that the genre's breadth could easily encompass similar stories from other ethnic backgrounds. I used to wonder, "why is there no African version of 300 or Gladiator?" The simple answer? Money. 

For decades, Hollywood thought that movies about Africa with a predominately Black cast couldn't draw a dime at the box office with a stencil. If there was going to be an inversion of Hollywood's myopic perception of historical action flicks, it was clear that Tinseltown would first need to see one succeed massively. After this weekend's box-office results, it looks like The Woman King will lead the charge to a newer, more diverse Hollywood. 

 TriStar/eOne's The Woman King is coming in higher than expected, with an $18M opening boosted by lively word of mouth off an A+ CinemaScore and a massive 95% positive on Comscore/Screen Engine's PostTrak. Friday, including $1.7M previews, came in at $6.8M.

Comping this Black female epic to previous Hollywood titles was a challenge, but that's also what made the project extremely appealing; the fact that there's been nothing else like it, as TriStar Boss Nicole Brown said at TIFF last weekend. Some were guessing that Harriet ($11.6M) and Viola Davis' Widows ($12.8M) were the right comparisons, but even going back to Thursday previews, Woman King has already bested those numbers. No theatrical window has been indicated yet for the Gina Prince-Bythewood directed movie, which indicates Sony's commitment for the long haul theatrically for this movie during awards season.