The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend gave “Selma,” the Paramount Pictures film based on the civil rights icon’s march that preceded adoption of the Voting Rights Act, a small boost in the box office over its wide release last weekend. Ticket sales increased 1.7 percent from Friday through Monday, according to Box Office Mojo, the ticket sales reporting service. The movie dropped from second in the box office to fifth, coming in behind the newly released movies “American Sniper,” “Paddington” and “The Wedding Ringer,” as well as “Taken 3,” which bested “Selma” last weekend.
In all, Selma made $11.5 million over the holiday weekend. It made $11.3 million last weekend in sales measured through a regular Friday through Sunday period. There had been a recent push to gin up attention for the movie among U.S. moviegoers, particularly after “Selma” was shut out of the acting and director categories when Academy Award nominations were announced last week. The snub contributed to widespread criticism of the Academy’s membership and its leadership, as all acting and directing nominees for 2015 are white. "Selma," however, did receive nods for Best Picture and Song.
Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first African-American president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, responded to the criticism in several media interviews over the weekend. "'Selma' is an exceptional film, which is why I believe that the academy nominated it for best picture,” Boone Isaacs told the New York Times on Sunday. “We are committed to do our part to ensure diversity in the industry. We are making great strides, and I personally wish it was moving quicker, but I think the commitment is there and we will continue to make progress.”
Last week, the movie's director, Ava DuVernay, and crew were part of a media blitz to shift attention away from the Oscar snub and to King’s message. DuVernay, with film stars Oprah Winfrey, Common and David Oyelowo, who played King, held a reenactment of the famous march for voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on Sunday. On Friday, President Barack Obama hosted the cast and crew at the White House for a screening of the film. A fund had been set up to allow seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders in New York City to see the movie for free at local theaters through yesterday. Paramount Pictures, which distributed the film, reportedly screened the film for free to people in Selma.