Black Panther topped the box office again over the weekend, both domestically and abroad. Meanwhile, another big Disney movie opening did not fare quite as well. A Wrinkle in Time came in second in ticket sales, generating a disappointing $33 million.
A Wrinkle in Time is directed by Ava DuVernay and stars Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. The film is based on the classic children's book by Madeleine L'Engle.
John Horn of KPCC's The Frame said that this film shouldn't be considered a failure, but given the large production budget for the movie, it did under perform.
Both Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time are made by black directors and have diverse casts, but Horn said it's hard to compare films that are so different based only on the diversity of their casts. He said it is interesting, however, to look at the demographics of movie-goers who showed up to the two films.
The opening weekend for Black Panther, 37% of the ticket-buyers were African American. For A Wrinkle in Time only 17 % were African American, so less than half of the audience that showed up among black movie-goers for Black Panther turned up for A Wrinkle in Time.
Unfortunately, male directors are often given more leeway in Hollywood if their films do not succeed, Horn said, but the takeaway here should not be related to the talents of Ava DuVernay or other women directors or directors of color.
For this to be a referendum on a black woman directing a film would be tragic. It is a referendum on whether or not the film was marketed well, whether or not there was an audience for the way this story was told.
The marketing of the film has been questioned, Horn said. Some are wondering if it was marketed more as an action film rather than a children's film, and if that was a mistake.
The consolation for Disney is that A Wrinkle in Time lost out to another Disney film in Black Panther, Horn said. If you look at Disney's recent track record, there are a lot of films that have done well, which shows Disney is a company looking for big successes.
They're in the home run business. They are not going up to the plate trying to hit singles and doubles. So for a movie like A Wrinkle in Time to be a single or maybe a double is not in their business plan.
Horn said a huge part of the Disney franchise isn't movies like A Wrinkle in Time, it's live action remakes of animated classics like Beauty and the Beast or the upcoming Mulan and The Lion King.