It’s hard to believe that, when Jordan Peele set out to make a $4.5 million movie about the horror that ensues when a black man heads out to the suburbs to meet his white girlfriend’s parents, he had any idea of just how big it would become. Describing Get Out as simply “big” is dong it a disservice. This week, Peele’s masterpiece became the most profitable film of 2017, making a tidy 630 percent of its money back, The Wrap reports. Get Out isn’t just big. It’s a straight up phenomenon.
So why is this such a big deal? Well, for starters, Get Out was written and directed by a black man. Peele became the first black writer-director to earn over $100 million with his debut film ever. Hollywood has already begun the wooing process—he was being “aggressively” courted to direct the Akira movie—but Peele’s interests lie elsewhere. He told Business Insider that Get Out was the first of five social thrillers he plans on making, all of which already have scripts written. And while Peele’s next film will reportedly have five times the budget as Get Out, that’s still just $25 million, or just enough to like a minute of a James Bond movie.
That’s good news for anyone who buys into the ongoing narrative that there’s a dearth of original storytelling in Hollywood, and that directors interested in making mid-budget movies far removed from the franchise-obsessed studio mindset, don’t have room in the sandbox. Hopefully the success of Get Out didn’t just embolden the people that make movies, but the people that pay for movies to get made, too. Get Out is proof that audiences are willing to fork it over for smart, politically charged films as long as they’re, you know, actually good.
The one thing we need to avoid going forward is the clone effect. In Hollywood, there are far more unmitigated disasters than blinding success stories, so when something works, the people in charge like to replicate it, over and over again. Don’t be surprised if another movie about an unnerving weekend with the in-laws pops up sooner rather than later. But the lesson here isn’t that audiences really love watching creepy white liberals being really creepy, although that certainly is fun. Despite the endless success of superhero movies, there is still space for smaller movies that make you think, and in Get Out’s case, scream.