Yes, the buzz was huge and all analysts had predicted Black Panther was going to be a big success. Disney and Marvel knew the numbers were going to be enormous. But nobody guessed that Black Panther, with Ryan Coogler at the helm and Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa, was going to shatter all kinds of records, here in the US and abroad.Domestically, the wave started on Thursday, when previews brought $25.2 million. By the end of the four-day President’s Day weekend, it was a debut worth a smashing $242 million, doubling the original tracking numbers in less than a month. Panther now holds the fifth biggest domestic opening of all time, while the estimated global launch stands at $426 million.
Making his debut in Marvel’s Fantastic Four back in 1966 and created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Black Panther was the first black superhero in mainstream comics. It encountered mixed fortunes for half a century, appearing in Avengers titles and also having his own series. In its new successful reincarnation, Boseman as King T'Challa appears alongside Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis. It has a soundtrack co-produced by rap superstar Kendrick Lamar, already breaking records as well.
The story follows T'Challa as he is sworn in as King of Wakanda, an African land that has never been colonized, or for that matter discovered. Wakanda is also an extremely technologically advanced nation, home to the amazing metal vibranium. The film is already the biggest ever by an all-black cast and by an African-American director. The unanimously well-reviewed film has received a rare A-plus grade from ticket buyers in CinemaScore exit polls and plays evenly to men and women. The audience was 37% African American, 35% Caucasian,18% Hispanic and 5% Asian.
Internationally, having an all-black cast was supposed to be a handicap. It was not: the pic had an estimated international debut of $184 million. South Korea was good for $25.3 million. The U.K. had a $24.8 million launch. Black Panther posted the highest grossing February opening in Mexico and throughout Latin America. Markets such as Russia, Japan, and China have not opened yet.
China’s box office did pretty well anyway, confirming once again it does not really need Hollywood’s help. Detective Chinatown 2 earned $154 million in three days. Monster Hunt was not far, with $140million. The Monkey King 3: Kingdom of Women grossed $79.9 million, Operation Red Sea managed $70.3 million and animation title Boonie Bears scored $40.9 million.
Back to Black Panther, the phenomenon transcends numbers and grosses. It has been hailed as proof that representation matters, as a reflection of the shared values uniting moviegoers all over the globe, as a symbol of inclusiveness paying off. It’s now a cultural phenomenon, a film breaking stereotypes and archetypes that go back all the way to the origins of Hollywood a century ago. Having never been colonized, Wakanda has become a utopic land with no experience and no memories of control and subjugation by white people. The women of Wakanda are strong and fierce. And T’Challa, who is rich and smart and good looking and cool, is the black Bruce Wayne: every black boy’s fantasy. In a sad commentary of the times we live in, the cultural significance of Black Panther had another confirmation: Twitter trolls have emerged across the country attempting to generate racial division by spreading claims by white fans falsely accusing black kids of attacking them while going to see the flic.
By the way, there were other movies in theaters this last weekend. The only ones who dared to open against Black Panther were Early Man, which had a soft $4.2 million, and PureFlix's faith-based Samson, which ended up in the $2 million range. On its second outing, Sony’s Peter Rabbit generated $22.5 million, for a total gross so far of $53 million. Internationally, it has grossed close to $50 million so far. Third in the domestic market was Fifty Shades Freed, with $128 million. Worldwide, the erotic romance starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele stands at $270 million. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle managed to add $10 million, for a domestic total of $380 million and a worldwide gross of $904 million. Not bad for a film in its ninth week. And that has defied all expectations: like Black Panther.
See the latest world box office estimates: