‘Moonlight’ director on post-election box office jump: ‘People felt this film was a place they could go’

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Los Angeles (CNN)As some Americans express heightened concern about the reported rise of hate crimes and bigotry since Donald Trump’s presidential win on Tuesday, it seems some have sought an escape from it all at the movies.

In particular, “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins told a crowd this weekend at AFI Fest in Los Angeles that his movie experienced a major increase at the box office in the days following the election.
    “Wednesday morning, this film, on the same amount of screens it was on Tuesday, went up like 40% because people felt this film was a place they could go to assuage or address whatever it was they are feeling in response to Tuesday,” Jenkins told the crowd at a conversation about the movie held at The Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. “I couldn’t have anticipated that.”
    “Moonlight” is a coming-of-age tale that follows three distinct periods in the life of character named Chiron, played by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes.
    The film, among many things, has been praised for its portrayal of Chiron’s struggle with his sexuality and the way it tackles the issue of black masculinity.
    The movie is among the films thought to be a frontrunner for the upcoming Academy Awards.
    On Wednesday, “Moonlight” grossed $108,142, up 37.3% from the previous day, according to figures from Box Office Mojo. Its upward trend continued in the following days. On Friday, the film expanded from 83 theaters to 176 and saw a 230% increase in its gross.
    “It’s a really beautiful feeling to have created something that — for whatever people were feeling this week — they can come to this film as a place to call home for even 110 minutes,” Jenkins added. “In that respect, it’s been amazing.”
    Jenkins was joined on the panel by Rhodes and Mahershala Ali.
    AFI Fest continues through November 17.

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