Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit movie a hit with critics but not cinemagoers

Official trailer of Detroit.
Director of Detroit, Kathryn Bigelow.
Director of Detroit, Kathryn Bigelow.PHOTO: ANNAPURNA PICTURES

LOS ANGELES (NYTIMES) - Kathryn Bigelow's well-reviewed Detroit arrived to about US$7.3 million (S$10 million) in North American ticket sales over the weekend.

It was a limp result for a movie that cost at least US$55 million to make and market.

Detroit is a retelling of the riots that engulfed that city in 1967, with a focus on the killing of black teenagers by police.

Detroit represented an effort by Annapurna Pictures to join the movie-business big leagues. Founded in 2011 by Oracle heiress Megan Ellison, it has been a successful producer of prestigious dramas such as American Hustle and Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty.

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But Ellison has always relied on experienced studio partners to market and distribute her movies. Detroit marked Annapurna's first attempt to go it alone.

Detroit, released on 3,007 screens in North America, took in roughly 30 per cent less than what box-office analysts had predicted.

It is Bigelow's first feature film in five years and stars John Boyega, Anthony Mackie and Will Poulter.

As theatres reported underwhelming turnouts over the weekend - the film arrived in eighth place - rival producers privately questioned Annapurna's rollout strategy as too wide and too fast.

Other people in Hollywood applauded Ellison for giving substantial backing to an important film-maker who wanted to tell an important story.

The Hurt Locker, released in June 2009, took in only about US$20 million over its entire theatrical run. But that film, directed by Bigelow, went on to win six Oscars, including one for best picture.