Boston Moviegoers Drive Black Mass at the Box Office
Johnny Depp might’ve fallen asleep “like 15 times” at the premiere of Black Mass at the Venice Film Festival, but Boston couldn’t get enough of the Scott Cooper-directed Whitey Bulger flick.
Moviegoers in the Hub accounted for roughly 10 percent of the picture’s $23.4 million opening grosses, reports Vanity Fair. Usually, Boston only accounts for 2.7 percent of a film’s domestic numbers. Six of the 10 best performing theaters were located in Boston, while the top three highest grossing theaters were Loews Boston Common 19, AMC Assembly Row 12 in Somerville and Showcase Cinema in Revere.
Even in a Sumterville, Florida jail cell, anxiously waiting for his next issue of Boston magazine, Bulger is still able to capture the area’s imagination.
Despite the inordinate local support, some critics took issue with a lack of authenticity in the film. Will Leitch compared Black Mass to The Town and The Departed—passion projects for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, respectively. That passion was missing here.
“Whereas, for all its strengths, Black Mass feels, more than anything, like actors playing dress-up. Johnny Depp gets teeth implants and a crazy white-haired wig, and you applaud him for it: He looks like Whitey Bulger. But he never feels like Whitey Bulger, or even someone who has ever even been to Boston, really,” Leitch writes. “Everyone works very hard on their accents, and none of them look like they could name a single Red Sox outfielder.”
Ty Burr of the Boston Globe took issue with the film’s geographical hiccups, writing, “Since when have the FBI’s offices been located in City Hall or the Mystic River Bridge been visible from the banks of the Neponset?”
The film premiered at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline last week, a red carpet fête attended by the movie’s stars, as well as one-time Bulger target Howie Carr, Bulger’s defense attorney Jay Carney, and Black Mass co-author Dick Lehr.