Box Office: 'Black Panther' Is Still Tracking For Record-Crushing Opening
The prerelease tracking for Black Panther has officially entered "Scrooge McDuck diving into a pool of gold coins" territory. NRG is reporting, so says The Hollywood Reporter, that the Marvel superhero drama may open as high as $165 million over its Fri-Mon Presidents Day weekend launch. Such a debut would be the biggest official Fri-Mon debut in history, ahead of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($153m in 2007). It would also be the biggest four-day launch, ahead of Thurs-Sun debut of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith ($158m in 2005). Assuming the Fri-Sun opening was at least as high as Deadpool ($132m Fri-Sun/$152m Fri-Mon), it would net the biggest opening ever for a solo/non-sequel superhero movie. Unless this is a giant Bradley Effect, this is threatening to become (delightfully) ridiculous.
The holiday Monday is going throw a slight kink into comparisons, especially if the Fri-Sun figure comes close to (for example) The Hunger Games ($152m in 2D in 2012, biggest non-sequel launch ever), The Dark Knight ($158m in 2D in 2008), The Dark Knight Rises ($160m in 2D in 2012) or the 3D Batman v Superman ($166m in 2016). As much as I loathe optimistic hyperbole, there is absolutely zero reason for folks to be less excited for Black Panther as the week goes by. The reviews are mostly quite positive (with three negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes for a 97% fresh rating and an 8.3/10 average critic score), the buzz is deafening and the movie will get loads of free publicity heading into and during its debut weekend.
Black Panther is not the first big-budget action fantasy with a black leading man, the first black-led comic book movie, the first superhero movie that takes place in the real world, or even the first MCU movie that’s “about something.” It is all of those things while also featuring black writers (Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole), a black director (Coogler, coming off of Creed and Fruitvale Station) and a 95% black cast, including Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker. Of note, Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman are the token white guys. It’s all of these things in a satisfying stew that delivers some potent political commentary and the required crowd-pleasing swashbuckling and several very entertaining characters (get Letitia Wright into your movie for cheap while you still can).
Depending on how this one flies, there’s probably going to be a lot of history being made. At the very least, I would not be shocked if the Thursday preview figure is closer to Batman v Superman or Avengers: Age of Ultron ($27 million) than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($14.5m) or Thor: Ragnarok ($15.4m) no matter where the final Fri-Sun number ends up. And as for Kaluuya, nominated as Best Actor for Get Out, Black Panther will be… Well, what’s the opposite of Norbit? Oh, and since they just sent me a press release, I should note that Black Panther will be the first MCU movie shown in the 270-degree ScreenX format. I did want to see it again, so maybe if I have time on Friday...
If you like what you're reading, follow @ScottMendelson on Twitter, and "like" The Ticket Booth on Facebook. Also, check out my archives for older work HERE.