Marvel Hasn’t Ever Seen A Success Like ‘Black Panther’ Before

In its opening weekend, Black Panther broke records. But in its second weekend, Marvel’s latest showed us it’s here to stay.
Black Panther’s estimated three-day box office total in the United States for Friday-Saturday-Sunday comes out to $108 million. After 10 days in theaters, its domestic box office total (i.e. only here in the U.S.) is $400 million.
That climb ranks alongside Jurassic World as the second-fastest box office ascent in Hollywood history. Both of them fall behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which got to $400 million even faster. Among Marvel Cinematic Universe releases, however, Black Panther is #1. The Avengers needed 14 days to log the same achievement.
$108 million also makes Black Panther the fourth movie in history to earn more than $100 million in its second weekend, which is also Hollywood’s second-highest to date. No big deal.
Behind all the stats there lies an immutable fact: Black Panther is the MCU’s best kickoff to date. Even after future releases come along to knock it from its perch — something that could happen as soon as May 4, when The Avengers: Infinity War arrives — it holds a unique place in the Marvel movies pantheon.
Just look at its record-setting contemporaries. The Force Awakens and Jurassic World both revived beloved Hollywood brands with audience-thrilling stories. The Avengers delivered similar thrills in bringing a superhero team of household names together on the big screen for the first time.
Black Panther has done the same, but without the mainstream cachet of iconic Hollywood stories or world-renowned characters to propel its success. To many non-comics readers, King T’Challa of Wakanda is a lesser-known figure at best. Black Panther’s record-setting success comes about as organically as is possible for a Hollywood blockbuster in this day and age.
Yes, Captain America: Civil War introduced the character to the moviegoing world in grand fashion. And Black Panther’s comic book reinvention in the late ’90s — not to mention the stories that followed — did much to establish the character as a critical figure within the Marvel Comics universe.
But Black Panther, the movie, is a juggernaut the likes of which Marvel hasn’t seen before. And it’s that way exactly because it isn’t the sort of thing that can be repackaged and mass-produced.
Director Ryan Coogler made the movie with seemingly few creative constraints. His recreation of Wakanda’s Afrofuturistic metropolis is thoughtful and unburdened by ties to the wider MCU. His top-tier performers are all perfectly cast, to the point that supporting players often overshadow leading man Chadwick Boseman.
Most of all, Coogler’s script — co-written with Joe Robert Cole and delivering layers of subtext, character development, and world-building that have no equal in the MCU — raises the bar for the entire brand. As crucial as their story is for the wider series, this is a script that has something to say.
Black Panther still has many more box office hurdles ahead on the road to blockbuster success. But its record-breaking second weekend sets the pace. We should all hope Marvel is paying attention. More like this, please.
By Adam Rosenberg, February 25, 2018

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