Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out passed the $150 million mark at the box office this weekend, making it the highest-grossing debut ever for a writer-director working from an original screenplay, breaking the 1999 record held by The Blair Witch Project.
This makes Get Out a unicorn. The movie-theater industry is bleeding, thanks to streaming services, rising ticket prices, and studios’ dwindling interest in original pitches. In 2015, the box-office take reached its lowest point in nearly two decades. There are obvious reasons for that besides the competition for time and eyeballs. Most of the films in wide release these days are reboots, franchise films, and Disney’s mostly regrettable live-action remakes. Theaters have been engaging in predatory pricing for “the next big theater upgrade” no one is asking for. But for Get Out, movie fans have apparently made time to visit actual theaters.
Many pieces have already been written about why Peele’s riveting, participatory horror-comedy is best experienced in a crowded movie theater, and he’s echoed the sentiment himself, explaining that it’s not available on any VOD services because “if you don’t see it with the theater energy, you’ll miss the full intended experience.” In the replies to that tweet, people are actually making plans to “get some friends together” to go see the film. So as movie-watchers who love the brick-and-mortar experience, we’d like to think Get Out is a sign of new life for the social space of the theater.