“Queen & Slim,” which is directed by Grammy winner Melina Matsoukas and written by Emmy winner Lena Waithe hit theaters on Thanksgiving eve. Waithe and Matsoukas have been hit with some heavy backlash for their comments in a recent interview (and a casting call that resurfaced). Nonetheless, the film blew up at the box office.
According to Forbes, the film brought in $16 million over the holiday weekend. The Universal film “ended the long holiday with a robust $11.7 million Fri-Sun and $15.8 million Wed-Sun debut.”
The film even brought in more than “Harriet” opening weekend, which was $12 million and has now grossed over $39 million nationwide.
However, like “Harriet,” the film was met with controversy. Over the weekend, a casting notice resurfaced, which gave a disturbing description of Queen’s character, calling for a “brown-skinned” woman, and if “she were a slave she would’ve worked in the fields.”
Then, Matsoukas said Daniel Kaluuya, who plays Slim in the film and received an Oscar nomination for “Get Out,” is “our Paul Robeson.” Robeson was a legend who dealt with a ferocious amount of racism, including being banned from Hollywood because he was labeled a Communist during the McCarthy era. It’s unclear why Matsoukas made the comparison and Waithe agreed.
In addition, the Globe & Mail reported that Waithe was talking about Matsoukas’ background, saying she is “Black, she’s Greek, she’s Cuban” and that gives her a unique perspective,
She also talked about her “influences” with an awkward statement, “I think that’s the reason why my voice is so weird and confuses people sometimes because I study Sorkin, Spike Lee, Spike Jonze, and that makes me a little different than a person who only has Black influences.”
Waithe was slammed for seeming to believe she was somehow different because she didn’t have “Black influences.” One user wrote, “Sorkin may be a direct influence but part of the critique you’re missing is that you give the impression that you think your influences are special, when they’re pretty basic. Even the way you speak re: Melina as if her ethnicity & ability to move in different circles is special.”
Waithe hasn’t spoken out about the backlash but nonetheless, there have been two hit movies (“Harriet” and “Queen & Slim”) with Black women at the helm in the month of November.