The Filmmaker's Champ: Steven Caple Jr. Becomes 4th Black Director to Gross $100 Million Domestically in 2018

Steven Caple Jr attends ‘Creed II’ New York Premiere on November 14, 2018 in New York City.
Steven Caple Jr attends ‘Creed II’ New York Premiere on November 14, 2018 in New York City.
Photo: John Lamparski (Getty Images)


Steven Caple Jr. likely faced a lot of pressure taking over the reigns for Ryan Coogler to direct Creed II. However, it looks like he stepped up to the plate, and then some.


Caple has become the fourth black director this year to helm a film grossing $100 million domestically.

As of December 16, 2018, the Michael B. Jordan-led sequel has earned approximately $104,882,976, according to Box Office Mojo. The film’s budget was about $50 million, so we got a profit, baby! As pointed out, it’s also important to note every film on the list stars black leads.

The 30-year-old joins Creed-franchise originator Coogler ($700 million, Black Panther), Ava DuVernay ($100.4 million, A Wrinkle in Time), and Antoine Fuqua ($102 million, The Equalizer 2).

When it was announced Coogler wasn’t going to return as the burgeoning franchise’s director, most assumed it was due to schedule conflicts with Black Panther. Creed II’s initial release date was announced in January 2016, right as Coogler was about to prep for the Marvel origin story, per Collider. The Rocky saga extension was originally slated to premiere in November 2017, but was delayed a year.

“I mean of course it was possible. Creed was about my dad and me, so it’s a movie that I find difficult to watch,” Coogler said during an interview with Variety’s Playback podcast. “It’s difficult for me to even think about it, I’ve got so many emotional ties to it, not to mention you know how much I care about the people involved. I care deeply for Mike, obviously, deeply for Tessa, and I grew incredibly close with Sly in making that. These are people that I wanna see do well and win at all costs. There’s timing, and that film for whatever reason it had to go when it’s going. I think it’s a blessing that it’s going, man. It’s amazing that they found an incredible filmmaker in Steven Caple Jr., who’s a guy I actually went to film school with, who I have a lot of love and respect for. I can’t wait to see what he does with it.”


After Coogler had to decline, there was a bit of back-and-forth regarding the sequel’s director, with Sylvester Stallone once confirmed to helm the film, according to Deadline.

“The character of Adonis Creed reflects this generation and its challenges,” Stallone said at the time of Caple’s hiring announcement. “I believe it’s important for the director to also be a part of this generation like I was in mine, to make the story as relatable as possible.” He added, “We are extremely lucky to have the talented young filmmaker Steven Caple Jr. step up and accept the role of director. I am confident that he and Michael B. Jordan will hit it out of the park!”


Caple made his feature film directorial debut at Sundance 2016, where he premiered his film, The Land. He also made Forbes’ coveted 30 Under 30 list in 2017, under Hollywood & Entertainment. Additionally, the Cleveland native racked up two director credits for the Freeform hit, Grown-ish.

We’ll be seeing a lot more from him.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.



Helming a sequel must always be tough for a director that needs to separate themselves from the originator.

Steven did a great job by adding his own nuance to the movie and furthering the narrative of parental links, which helped round out what was essentially Rocky IV but told a wee bit better.

Love seeing this kind of excellence be rewarded.