The Culture Movies First Look

'Hidden Figures' tops box office as non-franchise, female-led movie continues to dominate

'Hidden,' the story of African-American women whose calculations helped launch John Glenn into space, came in at number one at the domestic box office for the second weekend in a row. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe.

'Hidden Figures' stars Taraji P. Henson (center).
Hopper Stone/Twentieth Century Fox/AP
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The film “Hidden Figures,” which tells the story of African-American women whose math work helped launch John Glenn into space, became the number one movie at the domestic box office for the second weekend in a row, winning out over films such as the movie “Monster Truck” and the Ben Affleck film “Live By Night,” which expanded to wide release.

“Hidden,” which stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, has been nominated for prizes including the Screen Actors Guild Award for best cast and Golden Globe and SAG nominations for Ms. Spencer for best supporting actress.

The film grossed more than $20 million at the domestic box office this weekend, according to the Associated Press, coming in ahead of the musical “La La Land,” which took in more than $14 million. “La” has done incredibly well during the current awards season so far, winning a record-setting seven awards at the Golden Globes earlier this month.

The animated film “Sing” placed third, grossing $13.8 million this past weekend, while the newest “Star Wars” film, “Rogue One,” placed fourth, taking in about $13.8 million as well. The new horror movie “The Bye Bye Man” placed fifth, taking in $13.4 million for its opening weekend. 

The Mark Wahlberg movie “Patriots Day” expanded during this past weekend and placed sixth, grossing $12 million. Meanwhile, the new family movie “Monster Trucks” placed seventh, grossing more than $10 million. 

AP writer Jake Coyle notes that the success of “Hidden” is underscored by low attendance at other movies, such as director Martin Scorsese’s movie “Silence,” which expanded this past weekend, and director Ben Affleck’s film “Live By Night,” which did the same. 

“The weekend was more remarkable for what didn’t work than what did,” Mr. Coyle writes, also calling the performance of “Patriots Day” “so-so.”

Analyzing "Hidden," Matthew Jacobs of the Huffington Post wrote that he has to look back to 2011 to find a movie that echoes the film's success so far: the first live-action, non-franchise movie with more than one female lead to rise to the top of the charts two weekends in a row since "The Help," which also starred Spencer. 

“So, yes, we have to go all the way back to ‘The Help’ – the story of Mississippi maids and their racist employers – to find an original film in which women earn superior billing and find lasting box-office success,” Mr. Jacobs wrote. “Interest among moviegoers is obviously there. It’s the stories getting the greenlight outside the indie market that are lacking. There’s always a male-driven endeavor on deck.”