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Why It Matters That “Hidden Figures” Outearned “La La Land”

This accomplishment proves what audiences have been saying to tone-deaf Hollywood execs all along

Over Super Bowl weekend, Hidden Figures edged ahead of La La Land in the cumulative revenue race. (As of publication, the film has earned $119.4 million in North America, while La La Land’s tally stands at $118.3 million.)


La La Land is widely considered to be the front-runner for best picture at this year’s awards show, especially after it swept the Golden Globes and broke the record for most awards won by a single film. The record setting continued when it earned an impressive 14 Oscar nominations, tying with previous 14-time nominated films, All About Eve and Titanic. In addition to being poised to win best picture, the musical about two doe-eyed artistes trying to make it in Hollywood is a favorite in several other categories, including the mythical “Big Five.”

But the luster of La La Land may be dimming, thanks in part to the success of Hidden Figures, which recounts the true story of brilliant African-American women working at NASA during the Space Race.

[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]Make diverse movies with people who look like us and who have our stories to tell, and we’ll show up at the box office.[/quote]

Although a critical darling that has resonated with and inspired audiences, Hidden Figures was all but shuttered from the Globes. The film was only nominated in two categories and didn’t take home any wins. Its Oscar nods include best picture, best actress in a supporting role (Octavia Spencer), and best adapted screenplay—a solid showing, but nowhere close to La La Land levels of domination.

While it’s impossible to know which film will take home the top honor on February 26, this development—along with Hidden Figures winning best ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild awards—is sure to help keep the film on the Academy’s radar.

What’s more, in the era of #OscarsSoWhite, it’s significant that Hidden Figures has become the top-grossing best picture Oscar nominee of the year. This accomplishment proves what diverse audiences have been saying all along to tone-deaf (and predominantly white and male) Hollywood execs: Make diverse movies with people who look like us and who have our stories to tell, and we’ll show up at the box office.

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