“Stonewall” Completely Flops At The Box Office

In an astounding demonstration that not all PR is in fact good PR, “Stonewall,” the Roland Emmerich-directed movie about the 1969 riots of the same name, crashed and burned at the box office this weekend after months of criticism.

As soon as the trailer for the film debuted in August, the LGBT community started objecting to its premise. The actual Stonewall riots were initiated mainly by trans people of color, and the rioters were racially diverse queers and trans people who had been long-time patrons of the Stonewall Inn. The “Stonewall” movie, on the other hand, centered on the story of a white, cis gay young man who was just passing through before throwing the first brick of the riot, unwittingly becoming the father of the modern gay rights movement.

There’s been a backlash to Emmerich’s betrayal of history and betrayal of the diverse LGBT community, with calls for a boycott. When reviews started rolling in last week, none of them seemed to be good – on top of the fact that the movie offensively wiped trans people and people of color from their own past, it was just a bad movie. Things got worse last week when Emmerich explained that his white, cis protagonist was more relatable to straight people than the actual historical figures who took part in the riots.

It turns out that leaving the LGBT community behind was a bad move: The movie took in all of $112,414 in its first weekend (it took $17 million to make). The average taking per individual theatre showing the movie was a miniscule $827, with 109 people per theatre showing up to see it. Oh, the burn. It hurts.

If Emmerich had deemed trans history and racial history interesting enough to portray the Stonewall Riots accurately, chances are the LGBT community and our allies would have gotten behind the film, even if it was technically not that great. But he didn’t – and maybe this will serve as a warning for filmmakers looking to tell stories about queer history in the future.


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