Fewer films today connect with both critics and consumers alike. It’s less common during Oscar season.
Awards season fare often alienates mainstream movie goers. It’s why Oscar-winning films like “Moonlight,” “The Hurt Locker” and “Parasite” made far less money than your average franchise film. “Nomadland,” the most recent Best Picture winner, earned $3.7 million during a COVID-impacted year.
“King Richard” is different.
Will Smith stars as Richard Williams, father to future tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams. The biopic recalls how his unorthodox strategy, which defied traditional sports wisdom, proved the perfect path for his teen daughters.
The two-time Oscar nominee is already gathering Best Actor buzz for the role, and deservedly so.
The athletic drama scored big with two distinct demographics. The film’s Rotten Tomatoes score says it all:
And yet the movie is bombing at the box office. So far, “King Richard’s” U.S. haul is an anemic $13.4 million after three weeks of release. Blame the film’s day-and-date release on HBO Max, the enduring pandemic or other possible reasons for the lousy figures.
There’s one other culprit here.
The marketing team behind “King Richard” missed a golden opportunity to tap an under-served demographic that would have cheered this rags to riches yarn.
“King Richard” doesn’t weigh in on smaller government or tax reduction benefits. Instead, it celebrates the Williams clan’s conservative lifestyle.
- Hard work
- And, most importantly, never claim victim status
This critic isn’t the only one to spot those core themes. John Nolte of Breitbart News called the film an “inspiring lesson on how to be an American.”
King Richard tells us that what made Serena and Venus was something more than hard work. It was good old-fashioned values that created those immortals. It was traditional values, and American values emblazoned upon them by a complicated and imperfect man who’d suffered the worst kind of racism at the hands of Democrats in the segregated south. But rather than wallow in the injustice of it all, he looked ahead, always ahead.
That’s a recipe for success that heartland viewers would applaud. And there’s nothing ambiguous about that formula in “King Richard.” It’s beautifully woven into the fact-based story, one executive produced by Venus and Serena Williams themselves.
The tennis greats wanted that message to enter the world. They’re not hiding it despite fears that the new, energized Left prefer they crave victimhood status.
Now, did anyone hear Smith or the Williams sisters on any syndicated conservative radio shows? Did they drop by “The Rubin Report” or “The Adam Carolla Show?” Did Smith grant an exclusive interview with National Review or The Daily Wire?
Axios just reported on a new, blossoming wing of right-leaning platforms taking on Cancel Culture and censorship from the Left. There’s no lack of conservative shows the “King Richard” team could have joined to preach the film’s message.
And, here’s betting, the box office might have doubled as a result.
Instead, “King Richard’s” terrible box office results may limit its awards season reach. It’s not fair, but the box office often, not always, plays into a film’s Oscar momentum.
By that standard, Smith’s sure lock of a Best Actor nomination suddenly seems less secure.
It didn’t have to be this way, of course. Today’s Hollywood, from the marketing divisions to the talent themselves, overlook half the country starved for stories that speak to them.
“King Richard” does just that, except not enough people were told so.
SICK OF WOKE HOLLYWOOD? ME, TOO: It’s why I wrote “Virtue Bombs: How Hollywood Got Woke and Lost Its Soul” – coming Jan. 18, 2022. Pre-order now!