Spike Lee’s ‘Chi-Raq’ Does Gangbuster Business at Box Office in Chicago

The director’s take on gun violence averages $15,000 per screen in the Windy City


Spike Lee‘s musical drama “Chi-Raq” did pretty well in most of the country in its limited rollout as Amazon’s first theatrical release, but it did its biggest business in Chicago, where the film is set and was shot.

“Chi-Raq,” in which Nick Cannon, Samuel L. Jackson, Teyonah Parris, and Angela Bassett star, took in an estimated $1.2 million from 305 theaters, for a solid $3,900 per-screen average. But in the Windy City, it was another story.

“The numbers out of Chicago are phenomenal,” said Bob Berney, head of marketing and distribution for Amazon Studios. “In Chicago, we estimate a $15,000-plus per-screen average on 22 screens. And in the majority of our 305 theaters we’re one of the top three grossing films.

“All of this is a testament to the support of the local Chicago community and, across the board, the urgency of the situation. ‘Chi-Raq’ has been recognized as a call to action to stop the violence plaguing cities across the country, not only Chicago,” he added.

Howard Cohen, co-president of distributing partner Roadside Attractions, was just as pleased. But he said there is no date yet for the start of the film’s streaming run on Amazon Instant Video.

“We are thrilled with the opening weekend performance of ‘Chi-Raq’ and with our releasing partnership on the film with Amazon Studios, and are excited to have the film continue playing in theaters. All other release windows are at this time TBD.”

“Chi-Raq,” a modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play “Lysistrata” by Aristophanes, is set against the backdrop of soaring gang violence in Chicago. John Cusack, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson and D.B. Sweeney are part of the ensemble cast of the film, written by Lee and Kevin Willmott.

The critics like it and it is at 79 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes.