Black Panther, the biggest and blackest movie of the year, is breaking records opening weekend.
The Ryan Coogler-helmed film is on track for a $218 million opening weekend over the four-day President’s Day weekend, which is already almost twice what it was tracked to make just a month ago.
Black Panther is the 18th of Marvel Cinematic Universe and is the first to highlight a black superhero. The all-star black cast includes iconic actors Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya and Angela Bassett.
On Thursday night, the movie brought in $25.2 million, according to Variety, which is the most a Thursday night preview has ever grossed for a February release. For Marvel, that’s also the second-largest preview gross for all of its films.
Over the past three days, the film is estimated to have pulled in $192 million. That’s the highest debut for a February release. It’s the fifth-highest of all time as well. And with an estimated $169 million from the international release, that puts Black Panther at $361 million.
“This is proof that the big screen experience may arguably be the most powerful platform of change in our society,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. “The emotional, communal, immersive and bigger than life theatrical experience has an impact that virtually no other medium can match.”
Black Panther has been racking up records since even before it debuted. On Fandango, the ticket-selling website, the movie was the fastest-selling first-quarter film for pre-sales.
The movie also broke a record on the popular film review site Rotten Tomatoes where the film debuted to a perfect 100 percent fresh score. That makes it the highest debut for a Marvel superhero film to date, according to the Daily Dot. With a current 98 percent “want to watch” score as well, the movie is riding high at the boxoffice.
The studio invested a sizable budget into this movie, according to Marvel president Kevin Feige who spoke with Vulture about the movie’s impact. “It’s a big story that deserves to be told in a big way, for all cultural and political reasons that people talk about, but also because it’s such a key corner of our Marvel universe, and has been for decades and decades. We wanted to do it justice, and we have a studio with Disney and leaders with Alan Horn and Bog Iger, who supported us a hundred percent.”
Feige told Vulture he also believes the representation that Black Panther can provide for underserved audiences is very important.
Stars take the #BlackPantherChallenge
The #BlackPantherChallenge, in which people step forward to help underserved communities and children see the biggest movie of the year, started with Frederick Joseph. He launched a GoFundMe campaign to help Harlem kids see Black Panther and the campaign exceeded its $10,000 goal within three days.
“I want these children to be able to see that people who look like them can be superheroes, royalty, and more,” said Joseph. “All proceeds will go to paying for the private screening tickets for children and chaperones, as well as refreshments. The release of the film is February 16th, 2018, and the screenings will take place the following week between February 19th and 22nd.”
“Me and @Walmart joined efforts to support the community with free tickets for customers to attend an Advance Screening of @MarvelStudios @theblackpanther. We gave away 300 tickets to deserving families yesterday at the Cascade Walmart store. #BlackPanther,” T.I. tweeted on Tuesday.
Snoop Dogg and Viola Davis have also stepped up to the plate.
Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny, known as “Little Miss Flint,” also took on the challenge. She and her cousins set up a GoFundMe page to help marginalized children in their community go to see the Marvel masterpiece.
And Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer bought out an entire movie theater in Mississippi to give the community a chance to see Black Panther.
“I will be in [Mississippi] when this movie opens,” Spencer wrote on Instagram. “I think I will buy out a theatre in an underserved community there to ensure that all our brown children can see themselves as a superhero. I will let you know where and when Mississippi. Stay tuned.”