Nia DaCosta just made history. Despite an end-of-the-month release, Candyman dominated the box office in its opening weekend. According to Deadline, the film grossed $20.4 million, making DaCosta the first Black woman to debut a movie in the No. 1 weekend spot at the domestic box office.
The film, which premiered almost 30 years after the original dropped in 1992, stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as artist Anthony McCoy, who draws inspiration from the remnants of Chicago’s now-gentrified Cabrini-Green neighborhood and subsequently gets sucked into the lore of the titular killer with a hook for a hand. DaCosta’s feature ignores the two middle installments — 1995’s Farewell to the Flesh and 1999’s Day of the Dead — and picks up after the original, starring Tony Todd as Candyman alongside Virginia Madsen as Helen Lyle and Vanessa Estelle Williams as Anne-Marie McCoy.
The 2021 sequel also stars Teyonah Parris as Anthony’s girlfriend and gallery director, Brianna Cartwright, Colman Domingo as William Burke, an old-timer in the neighborhood, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Brianna’s brother, Troy, and Carl Clemons-Hopkins as an artist named Jameson.
“I’m such a big fan, I thought that I’ll come at it from the perspective of someone who just lovingly wants to see what else this legend and this story could do,” the director told ET about helming the project.
And while there was the obvious pressure that comes from being a ‘Jordan Peele movie’ from a big studio, I was just like, we need to make a movie that makes sense and that’s good,” she said.
DaCosta explained that the film’s subsequent themes about gentrification and appropriation grew out of what was also happening in real life; and that filming on location in the infamous Chicago neighborhood of Cabrini-Green and talking to the people involved with the community added to the themes explored and experienced in the film.
“There are so many more Black filmmakers working and so many different kinds of genres today, so I’m really excited about that and I’m excited to be a part of that,” DaCosta said, explaining that in this space, it’s particularly “cool to see the proliferation of Black horror stories.”
She added, “I’m really excited to see where else it can go and what kinds of stories we can tell around the Black experience that don’t necessarily have to do with historical racial trauma.”
Candyman also marks the second-highest-grossing three-day domestic weekend box office opening for a Black female director, a record owned by Ava DuVernay and her Disney movie A Wrinkle In Time. It debuted in the No. 2 spot over the weekend in 2018 behind the fourth weekend of Black Panther, which reigned at No. 1.
DaCosta is currently in production on the highly anticipated Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels, alongside Parris, who will reprise her role as Monica Rambeau opposite Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel and Iman Vellani’s Ms. Marvel. The project makes DaCosta the first Black woman to direct a Marvel Studios picture and is currently scheduled to be released on Nov. 11, 2022.