’Straight Outta Compton’ a box office smash with $56m debut
Straight Outta Compton, Universal Pictures’ biopic of pioneering US rap group NWA, has exceeded all expectations grossing US$56 million in its first weekend in the United States.
The movie was made for $29 million. Universal initially expected it to make in the mid-to-high 20s in its first weekend. Instead it brought in $24.2 million in its first day with screenings in 2,754 North American theatres.
Compton has gone down in history as the biggest opening ever for a musical biopic, and overshadowed other rap movie debuts as Eminem's 8 Mile ($51.2 million in 2002) and the 2009 Notorious B.I.G. story Notorious ($20.5 million). It also had the biggest R-rated August opening in US box office history.
It has enjoyed real cross-over power. The studio said 49% of its audience had been African Americans, 21% Caucasians, 21% Hispanics, 4% Asians and 6% “others”. Age-wise, 51% were aged over 30, and 49% under. Women accounted for 52% and men 48%.
It was directed by F Gary Gray and features Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson Jr as his father, Corey Hawkins as Dr Dre, Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, Aldis Hodge as MC Ren and Neil Brown Jr as DJ Yella. It was produced by Dr. Dre and Ice Cube among others.
Universal Studios financed extra security guards at screenings when some cinema chains expressed fear of brawls as a result of long-simmering West Coast and East Coast rap feuds. But the weekend passed without incident.
Straight Outta Compton is the sixth #1 debut for Universal Pictures, which this year hit with Furious 7, Jurassic World, Fifty Shades of Grey and Minions. Last weekend it also became the fastest studio to cross $2 billion in America in a calendar year.
Adding to the movie’s buzz is the release of Compton: A Soundtrack, Dr. Dre's first album in 14 years. The album debuted at #1 in Australia and the UK, his first chart topper in both territories. Released as a two-week exclusive on Apple Music (Dre hosts The Pharmacy show on it), the album was streamed 25 million times during its first week on the service. It drove nearly half a million paid downloads on iTunes over the same period.