There’s no doubt that “Girls Trip” was a box office hit during the summer of 2017.
Starring Jada Pinkett-Smith, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, and Tiffany Haddish, it became the first film with “an all-black creative team in front of and behind the camera to earn $100 million at the box office,” per The New York Times. What’s more, Tracy Oliver became the first African-American writer to cross off that milestone.
However, the film and television writer has opened up about the significance of the historic achievement not lining up with the payday.
In an interview with Variety, Oliver revealed that “The Blackening” — which she co-wrote with Dewayne Perkins — earned $18 million globally. What’s more, it made her more money than “Girls Trip,” a $140 million (worldwide) blockbuster.
“I don’t think people understand the math of it all,” Oliver told the outlet. “Even my family thought I made more on “Girls Trip” than I actually did.”
While it came as a surprise to many, the outlet details that it was due to her not having any backend on “Girls Trip.”
“It was considered such a risk when we made it that they weren’t going to spend a lot of money on the writing,” she said, according to Variety. “But I was just so happy to be there that I was like, ‘Oh my god, let’s do it!'”
The film “The Blackening” was quite a success for Oliver, the rest of the cast, and team, as its production budget was only $5 million.
The comedy follows a group of Black friends who go on a getaway turned horror during Juneteenth weekend. After receiving positive response at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), it secured a Lionsgate distribution deal.
“You just never know what’s going to happen when you’re making [a movie] at that price point,” Oliver shared, according to the outlet. “We were like, ‘Well, maybe it’ll go to a streamer.’ Then we went and played at TIFF. It was such a great crowdpleaser that Lionsgate was like, ‘You know what, we have a theatrical play here and then streaming.’ So, the fact that it made [$2.5 million] in a day, that’s amazing. I’m just really, really happy. I didn’t expect it.”
Oliver hopes for “The Blackening” to serve as an inspiration and proof to fellow Black filmmakers that there’s room for telling their stories without backing from a major studio or macro budgets.