'Sorry to Bother You' Director Blasts Foreign Distributors for Refusing to Carry a "Black Movie"

'Sorry to Bother You' will finish Sunday with a domestic total of $14 million.
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Boots Riley

Sorry to Bother You helmer Boots Riley says international distributors are claiming "black" movies don't perform well internationally and are treating his film "as such."

"re: the international distribution of #SorryToBotherYou : Even tho we'r outperforming a gang of other movies, distributors r claiming 'Black movies' dont do well internationally and r treating it as such," Riley, who made his feature directorial debut with the film, wrote Friday on Twitter. "There'r films that bombed here, that theyr distributing. Let em know wsup."

Domestically, Sorry to Bother You finished Sunday — its fourth weekend — with a domestic total of $14 million, a strong showing for a specialty pic.

Annapurna is handling domestic distribution and holds worldwide rights to the film. The movie's foreign rollout via local international distributors is still being worked out.

Historically, American films featuring an African-American cast that have been given a chance to play overseas have had a tough time at the international box office, although a spate of recent of movies have helped to change that, at least to some extent. Disney and Marvel's blockbuster superhero pic Black Panther grossed $647 million overseas, while Hidden Figures and Straight Outta Compton also did solid business overseas. (Those films still pulled in their biggest grosses in North America, including Black Panther; generally, a superhero tentpole earns more internationally).

But even in the post-Black Panther era, foreign distributors can still be reluctant to book U.S. films with a black cast.

One comparison for Sorry to Bother You is the 2016 specialty film Moonlight, which, buoyed in part by its Oscar win, grossed $37 million overseas, or more than half of its total gross.