'Love, Simon' & The Sociopolitical Importance of Your Dollar: Op-Ed

Love Simon
 Ben Rothstein/TM/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection

Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Nick Robinson, Alexandra Shipp and Katherine Langford in Love, Simon.

It’s strange that in 2018 we are seeing the first major studio release of a film centered on a gay teenager. But Love, Simon, the film following a gay high-schooler’s journey out of the closet, is finally here.

The film received early rave reviews from critics and even achieved an A+ Cinemascore over the weekend, a feat that only a handful of other movies have accomplished. Audiences and critics agreed that the movie is a breath of fresh air in an industry that can often feel stale. All signs pointed to a big weekend for Love, Simon at the box office.

But the results were mixed. On Monday, it was revealed that the film grossed $11.5 million at the box office. The film cost $17 million to make, so an $11.5 million opening weekend is fine, but certainly nothing remarkable.

That could be a problem. Love, Simon is a movie that is being watched carefully by Hollywood studio executives. 20th Century Fox’s decision to adapt Becky Albertalli’s young-adult novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda was, and still is, considered a risk. Even if we don’t want to believe that making a movie about a gay teenager is risky, Hollywood still does. And that’s not including the fact that getting teenagers to go to the movies is becoming more and more difficult.

Studio executives are watching the box-office success of Love, Simon in the same way they watched films like Wonder Woman and Black Panther. These movies represent firsts in the film industry, aiming to show Hollywood that women, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals are just as “marketable” to mainstream audiences as straight white men.

Wonder Woman and Black Panther each showed that not only could female and POC-led superhero movies do well; they showed that they could completely dominate the box office. Obviously, both of those films were massive-budget blockbuster superhero movies, whereas Love, Simon is a medium-budget romantic comedy.

Call Me By Your Name hit a similar bump. The indie arthouse film was made for a mere $3.5 million, and in its first weekend of wide release, it raked in just under $1.5 million. After an Oscars campaign and a lot of buzz, the film ultimately made roughly $17 million domestically and $36 million worldwide.

The point is, while an amazing opening weekend at the box office is important, a good movie can still make serious money after its major release. Thanks to the rave reviews and general buzz this movie is generating, Love, Simon has the opportunity to have a long, profitable future in theaters.

But there’s still a danger there: Many people today would prefer to wait until a movie is released on a streaming service like Netflix to watch it, rather than spending their money to see it at a theater. “If I’m gonna be able to watch it later for free, why should I pay for it now?”

Because paying for it now could help ensure the future of movies like it.

We constantly find more and more examples of the fact that Hollywood isn't inclusive enough. We see time and time again that queer people, POCs and women constantly get passed up for roles both in front of and behind the camera. We see studios churn out their one-thousandth superhero film, while films like Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name are few and far between.

Love, Simon is a film with significant racial diversity throughout the cast, actors of all different sexualities performing in all different roles, honest discussions of what the coming-out process is like, and a portrayal of queerness as something that can be completely ordinary. This is the exactly the kind of representation that we want to see more of.

Consider a ticket to Love, Simon as an investment in the future of entertainment. If this movie can perform very well at the box office, studio executives will have less of an excuse to not make diverse stories for the silver screen. Plus, you get the benefit of seeing a movie that is well-worth the cost of admission.

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