“Precious” Breaks Box Office Records

By Jorge Rivas Nov 09, 2009

Lee Daniels’s "Precious," sold $1.8 million worth of tickets at just 18 theaters, setting a limited-release record. IndieWire is reporting: "Lee Daniels’ “Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” has exceeded even the highest of expectations in its opening weekend, according to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier today. The film – which has been the source of much anticipation and buzz since its Sundance debut in January – grossed a stunning $1,800,000 from just 18 theaters over the weekend, averaging an essentially unheard of $100,000." “Precious” was distributed by Lionsgate, who acquired the film shortly after Sundance in a heated bidding war. The LA Times briefly mentioned Lionsgate’s "hybrid strategy" in marketing that apparently made this movie successful.

The independent studio’s hybrid strategy — playing "Precious" in both highbrow theaters, where affluent moviegoers were likely drawn by critics’ raves, and in African American communities where the mostly black cast and endorsements by Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey helped — worked extremely well.

In the Los Angeles area, for instance, "Precious" played at the Landmark in West L.A. and ArcLight Hollywood, more upscale locations, as well as the Bridge: Cinema de Lux and Magic Johnson Crenshaw 15, which draw large African American crowds. It also opened this weekend in Atlanta, Chicago and New York. A small majority of moviegoers were black, and a lopsided 68% were female.

Read ColorLine’s review of "Precious."