‘The Fate of the Furious’: F. Gary Gray is the First African American To Direct a Billion-Dollar Movie

You have to savor the irony: African Americans comprise a tiny portion of film directors; we all know the argument that black movies don’t play overseas. And in F. Gary Gray’s “The Fate of the Furious,” we now we have the first billion-dollar movie from a black director…and it was driven overwhelmingly by the overseas gross.

READ MORE: The 33 Highest-Grossing Movies Directed By Black Filmmakers

While Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” will be the most profitable title of the year, “The Fate of the Furious” just made F. Gary Gray the first African American to join an even more elite rank: He directed a film that’s earned over $1 billion worldwide.

F. Gary Gray (Regisseur / Director) and Vin Diesel'The Fate Of The Furious' film premiere, Berlin, Germany - 04 Apr 2017F. Gary Gray (Regisseur / Director) and Vin Diesel'The Fate Of The Furious' film premiere, Berlin, Germany - 04 Apr 2017

F. Gary Gray and Vin Diesel at ‘The Fate Of The Furious’ film premiere in Berlin

John Farr/SI/REX/Shutterstock

The eighth entry in the “Furious” franchise currently stands at about $1.2 billion, with more than 80% of that business outside North America — making this the unusual (and welcome) case of a black director’s film making the bulk of its money outside the U.S.

READ MORE: Why Sidney Poitier’s ‘Stir Crazy’ Is Still the Most Successful Movie Ever Made By a Black Director

That’s a stark contrast with, say, Tyler Perry, whose films have made over $953 million but whose entire career has seen just $8 million in overseas box office. (Most of his films weren’t released outside North America.)

Year     Movie                                             Domestic                  Foreign                  Total

2017     The Fate of the Furious*         $209,207,090            $957,283,449           $1,166,490,539

2015     Straight Outta Compton        $161,197,785                $40,437,206              $201,634,991

2009     Law Abiding Citizen               $73,357,727                  $53,332,999              $126,690,726

2005     Be Cool                                         $56,046,979                  $39,179,137                $95,226,116

2003     The Italian Job                         $106,128,601                $69,941,570               $176,070,171

2003     A Man Apart                              $26,736,098                  $17,614,828               $44,350,926

1998     The Negotiator                         $44,547,681                  $4,400,000                $48,947,681

1996     Set It Off                                       $36,461,139                    $5,129,747                 $41,590,886

1995     Friday                                            $27,467,564                     $748,354                  $28,215,918

(“The Fate of the Furious” is still in release. All numbers are unadjusted. Source: Box Office Mojo)

So far, Gray’s worldwide career gross stands around $1.93 billion; that’s enough to establish him as the most successful black director of all time, but we look forward to seeing it cross an even $2 billion. Well played, sir.

For more about the most successful black directors, check out The 33 Highest-Grossing Movies Directed By Black Filmmakers and a look at the enduring box office power of the 37-year-old “Stir Crazy.”

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