Hidden Figures is now the highest-grossing Best Picture nominee to date, proving black women can sell a movie.

Hidden Figures Surpasses La La Land to Become This Year’s Highest-Grossing Best Picture Nominee

Hidden Figures Surpasses La La Land to Become This Year’s Highest-Grossing Best Picture Nominee

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 7 2017 2:27 PM

Hidden Figures Surpasses La La Land to Become This Year’s Highest-Grossing Best Picture Nominee

Hidden Figures
Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures.

Hopper Stone/Twentieth Century Fox

For years, there’s been this prevailing notion among the bank rollers and gatekeepers of Hollywood that films with predominantly black casts don’t do well at the box office (unless they happen to star someone named Will, Denzel, or Kevin).

Advertisement

Maybe, just maybe: If you put together a stellar cast of big-name (and social-media savvy) actors to tell a previously unsung story of the kind many people have long clamored to see and do so in a compelling and easily accessible way while marketing it smartly and vigorously—you’ll discover that white faces and narratives aren’t the only ones that can appeal to a mass audience. And then you’ve got something like Hidden Figures, which is inspiring little girls everywhere, racking up major Oscar nods, and bringing in bank. Over this past weekend, Hidden Figures brought its box-office total to $119.4 million, surpassing La La Land ($118.3 million) as this year’s highest grossing Best Picture nominee. However it does on Oscar night, the effect of the movie’s influence both within the industry and popular culture will (hopefully) linger on long after.

Aisha Harris is a Slate culture writer and host of the Slate podcast Represent.