We all knew Black Panther was going to be big. Every first weekend opening of a Marvel movie is some fashion of big. The question with Black Panther was always going to be how big. Well, if the early estimates hold, it will go down as the second biggest MCU opening in history. That's how big. Not bad for a character who wasn't in the original Avengers lineup.
To offer a little perspective for Black Panther's astronomical opening weekend, the highest grossing debut weekend in MCU history belongs to the first Avengers, which made $207 million and change. Third place belongs to the Avengers: Age of Ultron, which grossed a little over $191 million. Captain America: Civil War and Iron Man 3 are both in the $170 millions. Then there's a huge drop down to Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, which is short of $150 million. In case if you're wondering, The Incredible Hulk is last at just over $55 million. Long story short, these Black Panther numbers have to be better than even Marvel's most generous estimates.
As happens every time a movie opens with double take numbers like this, there will be a lot of speculation surrounding why. Are the numbers this amazing because Black Panther is a diverse lead who represents a break from the standard white male protagonists we usually get (with the occasional exception)? How much of the success is due to gushing reviews (97% fresh)? How much of it is lack of competition? A February opening date? Great trailers?
Well, we'll never know exactly, but given the huge buzz the film generated even before anyone had seen it and the $800 million plus Wonder Woman generated at the box office, it's fair to say diversity and/ or a desire to see new faces represented does have something to do with it. So, expect to see a lot more opportunities for diverse superheroes moving forward, as well as some unconventional release dates against weak competition.
Beyond Black Panther, the only other two movies to see grosses over $10 million were Peter Rabbit and Fifty Shades Freed, according to Box Office Mojo. With budgets in the $50 million range, both flicks will likely eventually see a profit, though neither is likely to generate the windfall their studios were likely hoping. If Eric were here, he'd probably offer some fun analysis or references for these films, but since I'm the fill-in guy, I'm going to instead remind you that in the last week, we've written stories here at CinemaBlend both about Fifty Shades fans having sex outside Jamie Dornan's house and Peter Rabbit fans getting angry about a food allergy scene. You just never know what to expect when a movie is released.
In addition to Black Panther, two other movies debuted this weekend: Early Man and Samson. Unfortunately, despite opening in 2,494 and 1,249 screens respectively, neither film was able to eclipse more than $4 million, which is not ideal. Then again, given I work in the industry and am only vaguely aware of either of these movies, the small grosses probably shouldn't come as a shock.