Monday, June 17, 2024

He Got Game: Spike Lee Scores Biggest Opening Weekend in 10 Years with “Klansman”


SUNDAY UPDATE Spike’s weekend total is $10.7 million, a little higher than predicted. It’s deserved. Look for Adam Driver to be in the mix for Best Supporting Actor, and Spike in Best Picture, Director, screenplay.

SATURDAY Spike Lee and Focus Features have good reason to celebrate today. “Blackkklansman,” Lee’s new, excellent film, is his biggest hit in 10 years.

“KKKlansman” will make around $10 million for the weekend. Last night’s take was a very respectable $3.6 million in moderate release.

My guess is that word of mouth will send more people than expected over the weekend. This is one of Spike’s best movies in his 32 year career. It’s the most focused and brilliantly realized, too.

How black cop Ron Stallworth infiltrated the KKK in Colorado and made a monkey out of David Duke is a story that almost tells itself. The fact that Lee was smart enough to choose John David Washington, Laura Harring, Topher Grace and in particular Adam Driver to pull it off– wonderful.

As I’ve written before, the movie positions itself about a quarter way through with a very subtle musical number, everyone singing “Too Late to Turn Back Now” by my old favorite R&B group Cornelius Bros. and Sister Rose. It’s a revelatory moment, one of those times when feel a movie come together.

And then there’s that genius ending, where the modern catastrophe of Charlottesville 2017 is juxtaposed with the mid 70s and you have a profound, disturbing statement that is also uplifting in the sense of filmmaking.

“Blackkklansman” wasn’t number one last night. That was the horror film, “The Meg,” a science fiction shark horror movie, with $16.5 million– utterly disposable summer fun. What the heck. “Mission Impossible” is still in the top 5 and will cross the $150 million mark this weekend. I saw it this week, finally, and it’s really terrific for what it is. The music — a thrilling score by Lorne Balfe modeled on Lalo Schifrin’s famous theme– makes the movie. But I was also so happy to see Michelle Monaghan.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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