"Black Panther" shatters box office records

The nearly all-black Marvel film's groundbreaking success may finally push Hollywood to produce more of its kind

Published February 20, 2018 12:21PM (EST)

Lupita Nyong'o, Chadwick Boseman, and Danai Gurira in "Black Panther" (Marvel Studios)
Lupita Nyong'o, Chadwick Boseman, and Danai Gurira in "Black Panther" (Marvel Studios)

The numbers are in and "Black Panther," directed by Ryan Coogler, is a wild and historic success. The film starring Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan, which is also Marvel's first film directed by an African-American, had the fifth biggest opening weekend of all time, bringing in a projected $235 million domestically over the four-day weekend. Official numbers will be released later today.

But beyond the film's groundbreaking numbers and obvious popularity (nationally and abroad), it points to the power and importance of black creatives telling stories of all kinds and validates the, often maligned, commercial potential of black-led films.

"Black Panther" also scored overseas. It opened in 48 markets and brought in $169 million, challenging the notion that predominantly black films can struggle to make dents in international markets.

The film also broke the record for the biggest opening for a black director, "the top-scoring superhero film on Rotten Tomatoes (97 percent) and the biggest February bow, supplanting previous champ 'Deadpool,' which took in $152.2 million over the four-day Presidents Day weekend in 2016," according to the Hollywood Reporter. These numbers were fueled by diverse moviegoers with African-Americans making up 37 percent of ticket buyers, comScore reported.

ComScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian described the film as an "important milestone," and said, "'Black Panther' exceeded even the grandest box office expectations while simultaneously breaking down cinematic barriers and marking a turning point in the evolution of the genre."

All over social media, black celebrities announced various giveaways and theater buyouts of the film so low-income and children of color had access to this epic superhero movie for free. Audiences were blown away and inspired by a nearly all-black cast and crew, black people shown as superheroes and a massive black cultural moment portrayed on a major platform that wasn't predicated on black suffering (i.e. a slavery-era or civil rights story). "Black Panther's" massive success follows other black-led and created films of the past year like "Get Out" and "Girl's Trip," all shattering box office projections and forcing Hollywood to reexamine who shows up for movies and what they want to see.

"There are seven billion people on this planet and they come from all walks of life. Audiences deserve to see themselves reflected on the big screen. Beyond being the right thing to do, it makes for richer storytelling," Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis told the Hollywood Reporter.

The box office numbers inspired much celebration on social media, including from former first lady Michelle Obama.


By Rachel Leah

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