Even at the height of the Delta wave of the pandemic, audiences couldn’t be dissuaded from their burning curiosity when it comes to the new and long-awaited Candyman sequel. Proving once again that horror is an indefatigable force at the American box office, Candyman pulled in more than $22.3 million in its initial domestic weekend, beating projections by almost 50%.
In the process, though, the film also made history, with director Nia DaCosta becoming the first black woman to ever direct a film that debuted at #1 at the U.S. box office. Several other directors such as Ava DuVernay and Gina Prince-Blythewood have come very close in the past, but DaCosta’s film was able to break through, ensuring that her name will now be enshrined in film history.
The horror sequel received strong reviews in general, including from Paste, with writers praising its ability to bring new life to the supernatural horror/romance story first originally directed by Bernard Hill in 1992. Critical reviews are of dubious impact when it comes to powering horror grosses, however, suggesting that this Candyman simply piqued audience interest, despite being delayed by the pandemic several times. The presence of the prolific Jordan Peele as a producer/screenwriter likely also didn’t hurt in terms of increasing audience recognition, which resulted in a particularly diverse audience breakdown: 37% of viewers were black, while 30% were white, 22% were Latino and 5% were Asian and other.
The number was especially surprising, given the fact that Don’t Breathe 2 opened last weekend to merely $10.6 million, a number that led to lowered expectations for Candyman. The result is evidence, however, that even during the pandemic, audiences will still turn out at the theater for films with a premise they actually find to be compelling.