Jordan Peele’s Get Out was a film that garnered a very mixed response from the reviewing community when its trailer debuted to the public. The first and foremost concern was about Peele himself; as many know, Peele became famous for his collaborations with Keegan-Michael Key on the comedy sketch shows Mad TV and Key & Peele, creating elaborate comedy skits that showcased his virtuosity as a skilled comic. As such, his deviation into the world of horror for his feature film debut seemed like the efforts of a man who was overestimating his skills.
The trailer itself did not do much to quell this feeling. Featuring an over edited series of scenes with little cohesion, it came off as an amateurish student film that didn’t know what kind of tone it wanted to occupy. Not helping this was the slew of racists who, disliking the trailer accused Peele of propagating anti-white themes in the narrative (apparently unaware that Peele is not only the biracial son of a white mother, but also married to Caucasian actress Chelsea Peretti).
Nonetheless, every single skeptic ended up eating crow as soon as the movie was screened for critics. Opening up to a rare 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (a score that was sadly brought down to its contemporary 99 percent by the National Reviewer troll Armond White), Get Out was widely praised by critics for its masterful blending of the horror and comedy genres, while also touching on many real-world themes that are prevalent among minority communities, such as race relations, urban crime, and the close-mindedness of suburban America.
As a result, audiences have fallen in love with the movie, with its sixth weekend release still pulling in an astounding $5.8 million, especially when compared to Get Out’s shoestring budget of $4.5 million. However, what makes this success story even more amazing is the fact that it is two things: an indie film and a movie by an African-American director. Indie is a genre that has given audiences some of the greatest masterpieces of all time, including Pulp Fiction and Dazed and Confused, but the amount of actual good ones that are produced yearly in comparison to the number that end up winning in the marketplace is unfortunately low, and that is because this is a very competitive industry. Studios need to go with the movies that they believe will guarantee them the quickest return revenue, and that often times means the weaker ones that happen to have some famous stars in them get the chance to shine. The most prominent recent example of this was last year’s The Birth of a Nation, whose distribution rights were bought by Fox Searchlight Pictures for an astounding $17.5 million, only for the film to under-perform at the box office to a measly total of about $16 million.
When one adds that funding blockade to the fact that Peele was working in an industry that does admittedly have a race problem, it’s almost a miracle that Get Out even made it to the big screen. And yet, not only has it done that, but it has resulted in Peele becoming the first black director to have a film gross over $100 million.
Now, Get Out has officially passed another milestone, and that is becoming the most successful original indie film of all time for a debuting filmmaker in the United States. For those wondering, the previous holder of this title was the controversial psychological thriller The Blair Witch Project, which became famous for pioneering the found-footage genre through a clever Internet campaign, finishing its domestic run with a total of a little more than $140 million. The fact that Get Out managed to do this without any marketing gimmicks or ploys is a true testament to its grasp on audiences week after week.
We look forward to seeing what its grand sum will ultimately be, as well as Peele’s next project.
[Featured Image by Blumhouse Productions]