I’m sure there are a few people out there feeling a bit of schadenfreude today, as after huge amounts of criticism, accusations of white-washing and erasing trans people’s importance to the 1969 Stonewall riots, Roland Emmerich’s movie about the events, simply titled Stonewall, has tanked at the US, scoring a measly $112,414 in its first weekend.
It means the film barely scraped into the top 30, and even though it was only released on 129 screens, it scored an extremely low per-screen average of $871.
To be honest it’s not too much of a shock it barely found an audience, as this sort of movie (although with a $17 million budget it cost significantly more than more indie movies) need good reviews and audience support to succeed.
Unfortunately for Stonewall, it has recieved some pretty awful reviews. Even those who didn’t take it to task for the way it treat people of color and trand characters generally felt the film was tone deaf and emotionally manipulative. Currently it’s scoring just 10% on RottenTomatoes, although to be fair the movie did get one pretty good major review, with the Los Angeles Times saying that ‘the film is a vital, evocative reminder of a turbulent time that paved the way for hard-fought freedoms. For that alone, it’s of value for younger audiences, gay or straight.’
However the overall sentiments are summarised by Vulture, which says of the movie, ‘It’s a self-financed passion project, from a man who might be the most financially successful out gay filmmaker ever. We should be celebrating this, but man, oh man, does he make it difficult.’
It is worth noting though that while many will be pleased Stonewall didn’t succeed at the box office, it’s not something that should be seen as a victory, because unfortunately in the warped logic of Hollywood, every gay-themed film that fails is taken as evidence that they are box office poison. Luckily there are several other LGBT-themed movies coming out in the next few month that may help to counteract that, such as Freeheld, Carol and The Danish Girl, but the failure of Stonewall certainly won’t help more mainstream gay-themed films get made (whether the fault is Roland Emmerich’s or not).