I vividly remember being astonished by the box office success of Marvel’s The Avengers. It was the first film since I started Lyles Movie Files that kept breaking box office records. I didn’t think another comic book film would match its success. Black Panther is now a few days away from dethroning it as the all-time highest grossing comic book movie ever.
To earn this lofty status, Black Panther accomplished something Avengers couldn’t even manage — repeating atop the box office for five consecutive weeks. That’s just not something that gets done on a regular basis. Avatar was the last film to accomplish that feat. Not even Star Wars: Force Awakens or The Last Jedi can boast that claim.
Looking back at Black Panther’s run to become the highest grossing comic book movie, it probably owes some success to Spider-Man. When Marvel Studios entered its partnership with Sony Pictures to co-produce Spider-Man films, it quickly wanted to seize on the momentum of Captain America: Civil War. That was the film that introduced Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To quickly accommodate Spider-Man: Homecoming, several MCU films had to be rescheduled. The biggest beneficiary? Black Panther.
Thor: Ragnarok got bumped from the summer to November, where it still managed an impressive box office run. Ragnarok had its run impacted to some extent by Justice League and to a greater measure by Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Black Panther was slated for that November slot, but got bumped to February 2018.
Initially, it made for a quick laugh of the black Marvel film comes out on Black History Month, but this was a shrewd release date. February is typically considered a movie dead zone. After the Oscars excitement dies out, studios don’t tend to push their big films until the summer. Black Panther hasn’t faced any tough challenge in its five-week run. By its fourth weekend, the gap between Black Panther and its closest competitor was $7 million. The first weekend? $185 million.
Newcomer Tomb Raider closed the gap more earning $23.5 million, but it wasn’t enough to dethrone Black Panther with $27 million. Pacific Rim Uprising looks poised to be the film that finally replaces Black Panther.
But even if it slips to No. 2, Black Panther is $54 million away from catching Titanic ($659.3 million) as the No. 3 movie of all-time. I’ve gotta imagine that Marvel will make a big Oscars push for Black Panther so a fall re-release isn’t out of the question. Even if Black Panther doesn’t pass Titanic right now, it’s still conceivable.
On the worldwide front, Black Panther has now reached the No. 14 spot with $1,182.5 billion.
Maybe the most intriguing question is if Black Panther will keep its title for long. Avengers: Infinity War broke Fandango’s record for fastest selling superhero movie in the first 24 hours of pre-sales.