The women who inspired the story told in Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures refused to take a back seat to anyone along their journey for equality, and the actresses who play them are echoing that sentiment as the film rises to No. 1 at the domestic box office.
“I have been told my entire career ‘Black women can’t open films domestically or internationally.’ Well anything is possible,” Taraji P. Henson, who plays ace number cruncher Katherine Johnson in the film, wrote on Instagram Monday morning. “Most importantly this proves that PEOPLE LIKE GOOD MATERIAL. HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GENDER OR RACE. Agreed?!”
Janelle Monáe heralded the film’s success on social media as well.
“THE FORCE WAS WITH US. It took over 50 years to tell the story of these 3 brilliant African American female protagonists. Without the research of @margotleeshetterly these women would still be hidden,” the six-time Grammy nominee said. “This weekend we only had 2,471 theaters, while Rogue One had 4,157 locations. We had snow storms that caused east coast region theaters to close, but #HIDDENFENCES (🤔) still managed to win the race! Mary, Katherine, Dorothy and all the colored and human computers at NASA who took America space are HIDDEN NOMORE. WE WILL NOT BE ERASED.”
Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, who also has a supporting role in Hidden Figures, chimed in with her own post on Instagram, thanking “everyone who saw the value in seeing this story told” for “finally giving these heroines their due!!! The force was with us!!!! Thanks for supporting us and them!!!”
When early weekend estimates rolled in on Sunday, Hidden Figures tallied around $100,000 less than Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, making room for the projected champion — a major studio blockbuster that has grossed almost $1 billion worldwide in 24 days — to claim the box office throne for the fourth week in a row.
Fox confirmed to EW that the film — about three black, female NASA mathematicians who successfully aided the United States’ upward trajectory in the Space Race during the age of racial segregation — actually took in $22.8 million across its first weekend in wide release after earning an additional $3 million since opening on a limited number of theaters on Christmas Day.
The crowd-pleaser received a rare A+ grade from polled moviegoers on CinemaScore. Studio tracking indicated Hidden Figures‘ wide opening numbers were bolstered by women, as 64 percent of the film’s weekend audience were women. Around 56 percent of ticket buyers were over the age of 35, while 43 percent were caucasian, 37 percent were African-American, and 13 percent were Hispanic, with other races comprising the remaining 7 percent.
While final figures have not been announced for Rogue One, Disney confirmed the film’s final weekend number will closely reflect Sunday’s estimate of $21.9 million.