‘American Society of Magical Negroes’ Stumbles in Box Office Debut

Justice Smith as "Aren", David Alan Grier as "Roger" and Aisha Hinds as "Gabbard" in writer/director Kobi Libii’s THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES. The film made a disappointing debut at the box office. (Credit: Focus Features) release.

The American Society of Magical Negroes failed to conjure up much magic at the weekend box office.

The film opened with an estimated 3-day total of $1.25 million from 1,147 locations, box office tracking company Comscore reported Sunday.

That added up to a per theater average of just $1,090 and a 9th place finish among the competition.

Exit data showed the audience was 52 percent African American, 31 percent Caucasian, 10 percent Hispanic, and four percent Asian.

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The fantastical comedy centers on a secret society of magical Black people tasked with identifying nervous white people and making them feel comfortable.

Justice Smith leads the cast as “Aren,” a young artist recruited into the secret Black society. David Alan Grier co-stars as Roger, Aren’s mentor in the society. The cast also includes An-Li Bogan, Rupert Friend, Nicole Byer, Drew Tarver, Michaela Watkins, and Aisha Hinds.

The Focus Features release from first-time director Kobi Libii is inspired by the “Magical Negro” trope in movies and TV, where the Black character is there for window dressing to make the white protagonist look good.

In addition to being snubbed by moviegoers, the film received poor reviews from critics. It currently has a 30 percent score out of 100 on Rotten Tomatoes.

Among the criticism, Robert Daniels of Rogerebert.com said the movie “lacks form, edge, politics, coherency.”

While Travis Hopson of Punch Drunk Critics said the film’s writer-director takes a “clever idea” and does “absolutely nothing with it.”

The news at the box office was much better for Kung Fu Panda 4, which remained in the top spot after taking in another $30 million in its second weekend of release. The animated comedy features the voices of Jack Black, Awkwafina, Dustin Hoffman, James Hong, Ke Huy Quan, Ronny Chieng, Bryan Cranston, Ian McShane, Viola Davis.

Dune: Part Two came in a close second with $29.1 million in its third weekend of release, Comscore reported.

Arthur the King starring Mark Wahlberg as an adventure racer who befriends a stray dog, opened in a disappointing third place with $7.5 million. The film played in 3,003 locations for a per theater age of $2,498.

The Lionsgate horror film Imaginary was fourth with $5.6 million in its second week.

Angel Studios’ drama Cabrini rounded out the top five with $2.8 million in its second week.

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