After the release of The Woman King, a boycott began on social media with the #BoycottWomanKing hashtag. Critics online felt like the film, starring Viola Davis, didn’t delve deeply enough into the history of the Dahomey Kingdom and their involvement in the slave trade.
Davis told Variety that she wasn’t going to engage with naysayers because the film is what it was supposed to be.
“First of all, I agree with Gina Prince-Bythewood’s saying you’re not going to win an argument on Twitter,” she said. “We entered the story where the kingdom was in flux, at a crossroads. They were looking to find some way to keep their civilization and kingdom alive. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that they were decimated. Most of the story is fictionalized. It has to be.”
Davis added that despite the criticism, The Woman King has left a heavy impact on moviegoers and that can’t be dismissed. “Part of the story that hit me as an artist was these women were unwanted,” the Emmy winning actress said.
“They were recruited between the ages of eight and 14. They were the women who were not considered desirable. No one wanted to marry them. They were unruly. They were recruited by the King to fight for the kingdom of Dahomey. They were not allowed to marry or have children. The ones who refused the call were beheaded. That’s also a part of the story. People really are being emotionally shifted. I saw a TikTok video today of women in a bathroom of an AMC theater, and I don’t think they knew each other. They were all chanting and ruminating. That cannot be quantified by words.”
People like Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union, Kerry Washington and more bought out movie theaters for people to view the movie. Davis said she supports gestures like that because “in order to move the narrative forward in terms of diversity and inclusion, it’s going to take all of us doing it together.”
“This is not a lone wolf kind of fight,” she said. “When you’re shifting cultural narratives, then it takes people coming together to shift it. Alone, you are operating in a vacuum.”
Over the weekend, The Woman King grossed $19 million in ticket sales, The New York Times reported. This is reportedly 25 percent more than expected.