Jordan Peele is having a good month. The writer-director’s satirical horror film Get Out is officially the highest-grossing original debut ever, adding to its rapidly growing list of box office records.
At almost $160 million in US ticket sales, Get Out eclipsed an 18-year record set by the found-footage classic The Blair Witch Project. That film, based on an original story by first-time directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, topped out at $140 million in the US. Get Out could conceivably reach the $200-million mark before it leaves theaters in the United States.
Get Out‘s success is, quite simply, extraordinary. It continues to do things that are generally unheard of for low-budget, early-year releases without big stars:
- Peele is the first black writer-director with a $100-million film debut
- It’s the third highest-grossing R-rated horror film ever, behind only The Exorcist and Hannibal (which it will surpass soon)
- The film dropped just 15% in its second weekend (most horror films drop around 60%)
- It’s already the highest-grossing film in the US for Blumhouse Productions
That last point might actually be the film’s most impressive accomplishment. Blumhouse has a number of other hits on its resume, including the similarly triumphant Split and the Paranormal Activity series. The production studio is renowned for its ability to turn low-budget thrillers into box-office gold.
The success of Peele’s debut film is by far the most surprising among the Blumhouse slate. Get Out ingeniously skews genre lines between horror and comedy, but is best viewed as a biting satire on race in America. Peele has described it as a “social thriller.” It stars the relatively unknown Daniel Kaluuya as one half of a young interracial couple (Allison Williams, of HBO’s Girls fame, plays his white girlfriend).
It’s the most fun I’ve had in a movie theater in a long time.
And executives at Blumhouse and distributor Universal Pictures are likely having a lot of fun right now, too. Including worldwide gross, Get Out has made $167 million—a ridiculous 37 times its measly budget. Peele, the former sketch comedian, is now being courted to direct action franchises.
Peele proves that originality is not dead in Hollywood. Uncovering it just requires that the industry take a chance on creative voices with something to say.