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Green Book Box Office Surging After Oscar Win, Despite Controversy

Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortesensen in Green Book

Green Book’s box office is booming after its Oscar win for Best Picture. The civil rights era film has been a drastic change of pace for its director and co-writer, Peter Farrelly, who has primarily been known for decades alongside his brother Bobby as the go-to guys for gross-out comedy hits like There’s Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber and Hall Pass.

While Green Book has been promoted as a true story based on the tour taken by famed jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) through the southern US states in 1962, Shirley’s family has refuted the film’s alternate history, claiming that not only did it misrepresent his relationship with his family but that the highly regarded musician did not consider his driver and bodyguard Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) to be his friend. In addition to this, the film has received criticism from many who consider it unworthy of its Best Picture win as it reinforces the “white savior” trope seen in past Hollywood hits like Driving Miss Daisy and The Blind Side.

Related: Green Book Review: Driving Dr. Shirley

In light of its recent successful Oscar-run, however, Green Book’s popularity has surged, leading to increased box office numbers and an expanded release on 1,388 additional screens. Cinema Blend reports that the film’s triple Oscar win has led to a 5th place standing on this weekend’s charts, taking in $4.7 million. Considering that last weekend (prior to its Oscar wins) Green Book sat in 11th place, this is substantial growth (by 121.4 percent, to be exact). The film has also seen an increase at the international box-office - namely in China - where it took in $171.1 to become the nation’s second-highest grossing best picture winner, behind Titanic.

To date, Green Book has been a rousing commercial success for Farrelly, with both domestic and international tallies combined drawing the film’s worldwide gross toward the $200 million mark. What’s more, its low production budget ($23 million) and critical acclaim serve to further illustrate the advantages of smaller-scale projects and the impact they can make. At least some of these rejuvenated box office numbers can arguably be attributed to the controversy the film has stirred up, however, with Oscar-winner Spike Lee saying that the film wasn’t his cup of tea and some critics calling Green Book “the worst best-picture winner” since 2005’s Crash. Even revelations that Farrelly used to expose himself to friends and colleagues (for which the 62-year-old has since publicly apologized) have failed to lessen the renewed interest that Green Book is currently experiencing.

Though Green Book’s success is seen by many as little more than a well-made, popular film, the fact that its depiction of Shirley’s life has been repeatedly denounced by his family indicates a misrepresentation of fact. If Farrelly’s intent had been to make a film that told the story of one of America’s jazz greats during a highly volatile social period, then details matter. Reconstructing such a history in order to create a better narrative is not just wrong, but sets a dangerous precedent for filmmakers. It may continue to win big in the wake of its Oscar success, but one has to wonder if films like Green Book belong to a genre of filmmaking that, in 2019, are in need of being reconsidered.

More: Why Green Book Won Best Picture

Source: Cinema Blend

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