There is no stopping Black Panther. Box office projections for the Marvel Studios film continued to rise in the weeks leading up to its release, and it shattered all expectations with a massive three-day opening weekend of $192 million. Or did it? As it turns out, projections for Sunday’s Black Panther were low, and that estimated total is incorrect. Disney announced this morning that the film surged on Sunday, finishing with $60.1 million for the day and setting a record for the second-best Sunday gross in history. As a result, the film’s three-day box office total is actually $201.8 million and it’s on track for a four-day total of $235 million.
Yes indeed, Black Panther broke the $200 million opening weekend barrier, becoming only the fifth film to do so after Marvel’s The Avengers, Jurassic World, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Indeed, the Top 5 opening weekends of all time domestically now looks like this:
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – $247,966,675
2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi – $220,009,584
3. Jurassic World – $208,806,270
4. Marvel’s The Avengers – $207,438,708
5. Black Panther – $201,797,000
That’s kind of amazing. Four sequels/reboots and then a standalone superhero movie led by a nearly all-black cast. Sure the film scored a boost by being part of the Marvel Studios brand, but plenty of other new Marvel movies have launched in the past that haven’t even come close to touching the $200 million barrier—Doctor Strange opened to $85 million and Ant-Man opened to $57 million. Even Captain America: Civil War only hit $179 million on opening weekend, and the next highest opening weekend for a solo character-launch movie from Marvel is Spider-Man: Homecoming with $117 million. This is genuinely groundbreaking stuff.
And these Sunday numbers prove the film has legs. It’ll be interesting to see how high this thing soars. The next “blockbuster” on the release schedule is A Wrinkle in Time on March 9th, so it has a few weekends to really run free. The other question is how/if this affects the Avengers: Infinity War box office. Does Black Panther make people more excited for that Marvel team-up, or are a lot of fans who turned up for Black Panther simply going to be waiting for a return to Wakanda? I honestly find myself a little less interested in Infinity War after Black Panther—here’s hoping Marvel is working on a way to get more Shuri, Okoye, and Nakia on our screens sooner rather than later.
Between Black Panther and Wonder Woman it really feels like we’re in a watershed moment for representation in the most popular genre around. Not only are both of these films good, audiences turned up in droves. Compare that to something like Justice League, whose domestic box office total will have been eclipsed by Black Panther in a single week. Here’s hoping Hollywood takes notice.