'In the Heights' ' Poor Box Office 'Felt Very Personal' to Melissa Barrera: 'Don't Wish That on Anyone'

"It was probably one of the worst feelings I've ever felt," the Scream actress says

Melissa Barrera
Photo: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images

Melissa Barrera is getting candid about her reaction to In the Heights' box office performance.

The 31-year-old actress had a breakout Hollywood role as Vanessa in the big-screen musical last year, though the film itself — based on the Lin-Manuel Miranda Broadway show — did poorly at the box office, grossing $44 million worldwide. Directed by Jon M. Chu and starring Anthony Ramos, In the Heights was released on HBO Max the same day it hit theaters in June (in the midst of a pandemic), and it went on to underperform in ticket sales.

Barrera, who currently stars in the new Scream reboot, told The Hollywood Reporter that the box office tally affected her personally.

"It's such a weird time that we're living in, and what happened with In the Heights wasn't our fault. I've just learned to not have any expectations," she said. "All I can control is my experience while making a film and feeling proud of the work that I've done. So I've stopped thinking about anything else after that."

She continued, "I really hope that people keep showing up to theaters for all kinds of movies. I never feel good about a movie not doing well at the box office because, for some reason, that becomes the defining factor of whether a movie is good or not. I just thought that it was so unfair what happened with In the Heights."

Barrera recalled reading "brutal and horrible" headlines about In the Heights' box office, which "felt very personal to me."

Melissa Barrera attends "In The Heights" opening night premiere - 2021 Tribeca Festival at United Palace Theater on June 09, 2021 in New York City
John Lamparski/FilmMagic

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"It just felt like the industry was blaming us for not doing well and was blaming the fact that we were all Latinos and was blaming the fact that it was a musical that not a lot of people knew," she explained. "So it just felt very personal, and I remember feeling very s----y afterwards. I was in quarantine in Vancouver because I was about to shoot another show, so I was literally sitting on a couch and reading everything."

"It was awful, and it was probably one of the worst feelings I've ever felt. I don't wish that on anyone," added Barrera.

Jeff Goldstein, distribution chief for Warner Bros., told the Associated Press last year about In the Heights: "Even though it came in at a lighter level than we had expected, we're proud of the movie that's there and over time the hope is that we can get an audience to sample the movie and tell their friends to."

RELATED VIDEO: Melissa Barrera Says Working With the Famous Scream Cast Was 'Incredible'

Barrera almost didn't play Vanessa, she told PEOPLE in 2020. "I auditioned for Vanessa, which is the role that I play, but they switched me over to Nina. So all of my In the Heights auditioning process, I was auditioning for another role," she said at the time. "And then it wasn't until the very end that they switched me back to Vanessa. It was perfect because I always saw myself as Vanessa, even when I was 17 watching it on Broadway. So it's probably the most full-circle thing that's ever happened in my life."

In November, Miranda, 42, responded to backlash that In the Heights got for lacking Afro-Latino representation. He told the New Yorker, "At the end of the day, you can't control how the world receives something. All you can control is what your intentions were."

Scream is now in theaters. In the Heights is streaming on HBO Max.

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