“In The Heights” (which I reviewed here) is not doing nearly as much business as Hollywood expected. It made $15 million in its opening week, but only $4.2 million in its second — that’s a big dropoff. Those numbers don’t include viewership on HBO Max, but movie industry pundits forecast it would have cleared $50 million at the box office by now. Why hasn’t it?
It has nothing to do with people not wanting to return to movie theaters while the pandemic lingers. They’ve showed up to watch “A Quiet Place, Part II,” “Cruella,” “Peter Rabbit 2,” “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” and the latest “Conjuring” outing.
I think the explanation for the failure of “In The Heights” is that a lot of Americans can’t relate to its characters, a community of Dominican immigrants in a neighborhood on New York’s Upper West Side.
In a nation of 325 million people, there are only about 2 million people from Dominican backgrounds, with more than 90% living in the northeast or Florida. There are 18 states that have fewer than 1,000 Dominicans and 37 with under 6,000. So, most Americans don’t know anyone of Dominican descent and thus have little interest in a movie about their personal struggles.
Plus, as I wrote in my review, the songs in “In The Heights” are utterly forgettable and none of the characters especially memorable, either.
Lin-Manuel Miranda broke the mold and created a phenomenon with “Hamilton,” but that doesn’t mean his previous Broadway musical could come anywhere close to duplicating its success on the screen or have anywhere near its broad appeal.