With Black Panther’s success it’s probably time for Hollywood to hand the title of the next great filmmaker over to Ryan Coogler.
Coogler quickly established himself as a director to watch with his first film, Fruitvale Station. The drama earned him rave reviews. Instead of getting typecast as a filmmaker who could only make thought piece dramas, Coogler wisely switched gears and chose to direct Creed as his sophomore effort. Creed was a blockbuster and proved another catalyst for the #OscarsSoWhite movement when Sylvester Stallone was the only Creed talent nominated for an Oscar.
Now with Black Panther, Coogler showed he can just as easily tackle a major blockbuster and just as importantly make a major profit. Today, Coogler wrote a letter thanking everyone who supported the film.
I am struggling to find the words to express my gratitude at this moment, but I will try.
Filmmaking is a team sport. And our team was made up [of] amazing people from all over the world who believe in this story. Deep down we all hoped that people would come to see a film about a fictional country on the continent of Africa, made up of a cast of people of African descent.
Never in a million years did we imagine that you all would come out this strong. It still humbles me to think that people care enough to spend their money and time watching our film- But to see people of all backgrounds wearing clothing that celebrates their heritage, taking pictures next to our posters with their friends and family, and sometimes dancing in the lobbies of theaters– often moved me and my wife to tears.
For the people who bought out theaters, who posted on social about how lit the film would be, bragged about our awesome cast, picked out outfits to wear, and who stood in line in theaters all over the world– all before seeing the film…
To the press who wrote about the film for folks who hadn’t yet seen it, and encouraged audiences to come out…
And to the young ones, who came out with their parents, with their mentors, and with their friends…
Thank you for giving our team of filmmakers the greatest gift: The opportunity to share this film, that we poured our hearts and souls into, with you.
P.S. Wakanda Forever
Coogler is going to have his pick of projects from this point on. But there’s a case that Coogler isn’t being celebrated enough for his visionary work and seemingly limitless potential to be the most influential (and bankable) director of this or any other generation.
How’s this for a crazy stat? It took Spike Lee 21 films to barely edge out Coogler’s three film total ($390M). Lee helped pave the way for black directors like Coogler and it’s very impressive to see how the next generation is excelling to another level.
Quentin Tarantino was enthusiastically proclaimed a genius and revolutionary filmmaker after his first few films. Over the course of his nine films, Tarantino’s films have grossed $648 million. It took him seven films to surpass Coogler’s total at just three films ($367.8 and climbing with Black Panther in position to reach as much as $600 million domestically).
Maybe the best comparison is Steven Spielberg who immediately made his mark with his first three films (Sugarland Express, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind) totaling $402.5 million.
Christopher Nolan has that same kind of box office cache Coogler is fast approaching — if he hasn’t already, but it took him five films to surpass Coogler. The fifth film? The Dark Knight ($534 million), a film that Black Panther seems in line to surpass. If Marvel Studios does the smart thing, and there’s no indication they won’t, they’ll sign Coogler up to do two more Black Panther sequels that could legit become a legit threat to make consistently make Star Wars money.
The next step for Coogler is getting that long overdue award recognition. Fruitvale Station and Creed were deserving of Oscar noms, but if Black Panther doesn’t result in a slew of nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, the system is still broken. Tarantino got a Best Director nod for Pulp Fiction, his second film. Nolan had to wait until his ninth film, Dunkirk, to get a nomination though he’s generally been considered long overdue since The Dark Knight.
With all the scandals in Hollywood of the old guard filmmakers being such miserable people, it’s time to celebrate Coogler, the new heir apparent to the throne.