Jordan Peele's Us is already a major box office success, but how did that happen? Debuting in theaters this past weekend, the horror film was one of 2019's most anticipated films even before reviews praised it as a terrifying and thoughtful work from Peele, who's quickly earned himself a reputation as this generation's master of suspense. Audiences were clearly ready for whatever the director had in store, as Us grossed $70.2 million domestically in its first three days, the best opening for an original live-action film since James Cameron's Avatar in 2009.
In the weeks leading up to its premiere, Us was always poised to do well commercially, but initial projections pegged it for as much as $40 million. Much like Captain Marvel earlier this month, Us was able to shatter the estimates on its way to making history. Even those who were optimistic about the movie's prospects may be surprised by just how well it did, so we're going to analyze a few of the reasons why Us broke the bank in no time at all.
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First and foremost, Peele's involvement played an integral role here. When Get Out opened back in February 2017, few had any idea what to expect from a socially-conscious horror movie from one half of comedy duo Key & Peele. But $255.4 million worldwide and an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay later, Peele was firmly established as a creative force cinephiles were attuned to. From the moment it was announced, Us was on people's radars simply because it was the next film from the mind of Peele. Usually, it takes directors a couple of movies to reach that status, but Peele bucked that rule and just proved he can sell anything with his name alone. Whatever his third film is, it'll attract a crowd.
With the exception of the aforementioned Captain Marvel, business at the box office this winter was incredibly slow. The marketplace saw the worst Super Bowl weekend in nearly two decades and even well-received offerings like The LEGO Movie 2 underperformed. There was a craving to see a big new film, and Us helped fill a void at the multiplex. Not only was it a horror movie (a genre that typically does well in opening weekends), its widespread critical praise made it all the more appealing. Even filmgoers who aren't die-hard horror aficionados felt inclined to check it out because the word-of-mouth was so strong. Thanks to the pedigree of Get Out, many pegged Us as a possible Oscar contender for this awards season, so it was great to see it lived up to the hype.
It's also wonderful to see an original film like this (with a black led cast) be so successful out of the gate. Peele's clout in Hollywood has now only grown more, and he should have the freedom to do whatever he wants with his next project. At this point, he's batting 2/2 and showing no signs of slowing down. Additionally, this can be a message to the movie studios. Us proves that there is still a market for original films (even though sequels and reboots dominate the charts) and that it can be a wise decision to let unique voices do their thing in an environment where they can thrive. Us was moderately budgeted at $20 million, so it's already turned a sizable for Universal and will go down as one of the more ambitious and creative films of the year. Hopefully, studios try to find "the next Jordan Peele" by allowing a creative talent to see their vision through.
- Us (2019) release date: Mar 22, 2019