I didn’t think that the bar was set too low for Black Panther’s box office early opening weekend predictions. Initially forecasts pegged the film — the first Marvel Studios film to feature a predominantly black cast — to earn right around $100 million.
Doctor Strange brought in $85 million for his solo film and Ant-Man had a $57.2 million debut. Bumping those numbers to consider Black Panther was already introduced in Captain America: Civil War and already had some interest from fans made sense.
Now, box office experts are convinced the earlier predictions weren’t nearly enough. Black Panther now has a massive $165 million to $170 million opening in range. If that holds true, Black Panther would only trail Avengers ($207 million), Avengers: Age of Ultron ($191 million), Captain America: Civil War ($179 million) and Iron Man 3 ($174 million) as the best grossing weekend for a comic book film. I’m thinking the film might exceed expectations further and reach $175 million at this rate.
It was just two years ago when Deadpool blew away the February box office with $152 million. Deadpool was released two days before Valentine’s Day while Black Panther has the benefit of getting a wide release two days later. And while Deadpool might have been considered more of a guy humor comic book film, Black Panther is benefiting from interest as a significant Valentine’s Day weekend dating option.
Fandango reported a week ago that Black Panther pre-sales now outpaced advanced sales from all other first-quarter releases in its 18-year history. In speaking to Variety, Imax Entertainment CEO Greg Foster said Black Panther is already Marvel’s biggest advance Imax ticket seller.
‘We have a movie that has clearly captured the zeitgeist,’ Foster said. ‘Pre-sales are the surest way to see how momentum is going: The momentum is gathering steam as opposed to slowing down.’
That statement is huge. Interest in Black Panther is reaching a fever pitch and no one wants the cure.
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Just anecdotally from everyone that I’ve talked to that’s seen Black Panther already, they want to see it again. That includes critics (and me). Rotten Tomatoes has a 97 percent Certified Fresh score out of 105 reviews — that’s higher than any Marvel or DC movie. Three critics decided they want to draw some attention on themselves by being the outliers. That’s significant of course because not only is the opening weekend critical, but Black Panther’s sustained box office.
Last year, Wonder Woman opened with a solid $103 million. The immensely positive word of mouth propelled the film to a $412 million domestic gross. It’s looking more and more like Black Panther is going to top that figure as well, which would secure a spot in the Top 5 all-time highest grossing comic book films.
At this rate, I’m not betting against it beating out The Dark Knight Rises ($448 million) to land the No. 4 spot.
What do you think? How massive will Black Panther’s opening weekend be?
Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures