The numbers are in, and Marvel Studios’ Black Panther has pounced to a record-breaking $201.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office. It is the largest opening for any film in the month of February, and debuts behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jurassic World and Marvel’s The Avengers for the fifth-biggest opening weekend ever. (Industry analysts will note that four of these five films are controlled by Lucasfilm/Marvel parent company Disney, with Universal’s Jurassic World being the lone outsider.) Black Panther also enjoys the distinction of having the largest opening ever for an African-American director (Ryan Coogler) and currently holds the highest score for any superhero film on review site Rotten Tomatoes, sitting at 97% among critics. As the film is currently playing on 4,020 screens in the United States and has only been in release since Thursday night, it should be safe to assume that Black Panther will be one of the highest-grossing films in box-office history.
Judging from its opening-weekend performance, Black Panther is undoubtedly on-track to finish its domestic release with a box-office gross higher than any other standalone superhero film, whether Marvel or DC. As for ensemble comic-book adaptations, it will most certainly end up grossing higher than both Captain America: Civil War ($408 Million) and Avengers: Age of Ultron ($459 Million). However, it’s also not out of the realm of possibility for it to exceed Marvel’s The Avengers ($623 Million) either, which sits at fifth-place on the all-time box office chart. The 18th installment in Marvel Studios’ wildly-successful Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and part of its self-proclaimed Phase Three time line, it should also be noted that Black Panther isn’t your average entry. The film boasts a tremendous crossover appeal, and is admittedly drawing many casual moviegoers to the cinemas for the sheer excitement of seeing the solo film debut of the world’s first black superhero (having debuted in Fantastic Four #52, July 1966).
Black Panther features an outstanding, predominantly-black cast headed by Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa of the fictitious African nation of Wakanda (and his titular alter-ego). Marvel fans will note that this is the second appearance of the character on the big screen, having made his debut in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and figuring prominently into that film’s hero vs. hero story line. Black Panther also features Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya (2018 Best Actor Oscar-nominee for “Get Out”), screen veterans Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis reprising roles from other MCU films, and Letitia Wright in a scene-stealing performance as T’Challa’s genius sister Shuri. Black Panther and the nation of Wakanda will return in the forthcoming ensemble film Avengers: Infinity War, set to hit cinemas on May 4.