Viola Davis’ ‘The Woman King’ Opens to Mixed Reviews

by Xara Aziz
LOS ANGELES - OCT 21: Viola Davis arrives to Hollywood Film Awards Gala 2013 on October 21, 2013 in Beverly Hills, CA

Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis stole the show at box offices across the nation with her riveting performance in The Woman King, which snagged $19 million in its opening over the weekend.

The film exceeded film critics’ expectations (Sony only expected the movie to bring in $12 million) and wowed audiences with its Black-led, all-female cast. The film brought in almost $7 million on Friday and close to $2 million in previews just the day before.

But the movie had mixed reactions on social media. While some praised the film for its promotion of Black women empowerment, others supported #BoycottWomanKing in admonition of the movie’s fictional portrayal of the slave trade.

I can’t really process this fully yet. But #WomanKing might be the best depiction of African resistance I’ve ever seen. It might be the best movie I’ve seen period. I knew it would be good and yet I am still stunned,” one user tweeted.

“My people, we have no reason to support this film. Let it fail. They’re not our heroes, they’re the villains,” another user tweeted.

In response to Twitter users’ mixed reviews, Davis told Variety: “I agree with [director] Gina Prince-Bythewood saying is you’re not going to win an argument on Twitter. We entered the story where the kingdom was in flux, at a crossroads. They were looking to find some way to keep their civilization and kingdom alive. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that they were decimated. Most of the story is fictionalized. It has to be.”

The film, produced by Sony’s TriStar division and eOne, follows the journey of an all-female army called the Agojie who was from the West African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The film’s audience were mostly female, who contributed to 58% of all ticket sales, followed by white moviegoers, who made up 23% of moviegoers, Latinos, who made up 15% and Asian or other identified moviegoers at 6%, according to the exit-polling service PostTrak.

The film received positive reviews at its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month and boasts a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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