Black Panther Gives Marvel Its Second Biggest Opening Weekend Ever, Only Behind Avengers

Image: Marvel Studios
Image: Marvel Studios

T’Challa is no longer just the king of Wakanda. After a debut weekend that defied estimates and cemented Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther as one of the most successful Marvel debuts in the studio’s 10-year history, he’s king of the box office too.


Early industry estimates (via Deadline) from the film’s four-day opening over the President’s Day holiday weekend in the U.S. peg Black Panther as having raked in a whopping $242 million—practically double was expected of the movie in early tracking released just last month. That doesn’t make it just the biggest box-office opening for an African-American director, or the biggest February opening in box office history, but also places it in the top five all-time opening weekends. It beats all of Marvel’s solo debuts and team outings, except 2012's The Avengers.

Heralded by breathless positive reviews and a hugely diverse audience (Comscore estimates show that 37% of ticket buyers were African-American, two percent more than caucasian viewers, and 45% overall were women), the movie is one of Marvel’s biggest success stories so far—even before accounting for the extra day of the holiday weekend, Black Panther is only behind 2012's Avengers in terms of Marvel’s best opening weekends at the box office.

If the estimates for the full holiday weekend hold out—Disney themselves have yet to confirm the numbers—Black Panther could pip Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s impressive $241.6 million to become the second-biggest four-day opening of all time, behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Black Panther isn’t just a wild success for superhero films, but a resounding refutation of the long-held Hollywood myths that either black audiences weren’t worth being specifically catered to at the box office, or that films with predominantly black casts/leads cannot sell movies. Black Panther’s cast, crew, and the diverse audience just propelled it into the history books and to the box office crown, and it is most definitely good to be king.

[Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter]

James is a News Editor at io9, where you can find him delivering your morning spoilers, writing about superheroes, and having many feelings about Star Wars. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!


Angrier Geek

As I said to my friends, this is doing for Black directors & stars what Wonder Woman did for female directors & stars: prove they can make money in big budget franchises so no more bullshit excuses.

Now, let’s get into it…

First, it’s great seeing yourself onscreen as beautiful and amazing as fuck. I cannot stress that enough. Seriously. As a black man I can’t even put it into words. And as cynical as I can be, I can’t say I wasn’t moved by watching people not only dressed for the occasion (like everyone joked they would be) but taking pics in front of the giant Black Panther display outside the theater. I’m now fully understanding what was going on with all the women doing the same with Wonder Woman last year.

That being said, it was good, but not great. Part of it is me, because thanks to those amazing trailers and what I just expect from Coogler. I expected greatness. And the flaw was sadly the same old Marvel flaw: the villain. Eric Killmonger should have been one of the greatest villains we’ve seen in superhero movies, because he truly was the hero of his own story and his goals were understandable even though his means were despicable. Unfortunately, it’s undercut by some lazy and WTF writing and again I blame the MCU assembly line, because this had to be done before Infinity War.

Killmonger is a literal blood prince to a nation that has withstood imperialism, but becomes one of the greatest weapons for an imperialist nation and plans on using the skills he learned doing so to destroy said imperialists using his country’s tech. Ostensibly noble, but his execution is evil because he has no regard for any innocent life (and that plan is basically throw the world into shit and take over). Where this falters the most for me is in both his origin and development. It makes no sense that T’Chaka would leave Erick in Oakland. None. And this goes for his brother’s body, as they’re both blood princes. In a monarchy, this makes them literal heads of state and you don’t just execute a state head on foreign soil and leave it behind (pretty sure this is going to be noticed by the government of said foreign soil). Then there’s the matter the only way The Black Panther could stop his brother was to punch hole in his heart!?! Seriously!?! Oh, and where’s Eric’s mom? You know “American girl.” Seriously, that’s all we get. At least she got better than the girlfriend Killmonger kills to get at Klaw. She doesn’t even get a description much less a name. Her death is little more than an anvil drop to tell you he’s a reeeeeally bad guy, except it doesn’t have much impact because we know nothing about her or her relationship to him. Is she just another mercenary he’s boning or was she his ride-or-die chick he met in the army and has been with him this whole time and down for the cause?

I could continue to point out things that make no sense (burning the source of The Black Panther’s power?) but this is the gist of it. Now, I expect this kind of lack of detail from a weekly Berlanti superhero show (see the two episodes of the otherwise very good Black Lightning about LaWanda’s daughter where the daughter never appears and no one ever looks for her), but not from the people who brought me Fruitvale Station and Creed. And I think if they didn’t have to get this done in time for Infinity War, further script development would have plugged these holes. There’s simply too much to work with for Killmonger for them to short change the character like that. There’s a whole great movie in my head now, based not only things I came up with but with what they gave me (example: Killmonger’s missing mom, his father’s new radicalism and Killmongers insane rage are tied because of her death at the hands of police who were not held accountable).

But it was good and when I see it again (fuck yes I am) I’ll probably enjoy it more with lowered expectations of good, not great.