Based on the latest box office projections, Black Panther should surpass Avengers: Age of Ultron domestically after just three weekends. Marvel Studios has an ironclad track record commercially, but even for them, Black Panther is something special. Riding waves of positive buzz, the film annihilated the February record and hasn't slowed down since. It's in very exclusive company, reaching the $400 million mark in just 10 days time. The only film to top that figure quicker is Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Black Panther is essentially a lock to become the MCU's fifth $1 billion title - and the first sans Iron Man.
As director Ryan Coogler's latest rewrites the history books, Black Panther currently stands as the third-highest grossing installment in the franchise and recently topped Wonder Woman's Stateside total. Since the film is still early in its box office run, it will only move up the charts, which is precisely what's in store for the coming week.
According to Deadline, Black Panther is expected to bring in between $61-67 million during its third weekend. It's possible (considering how the movie has surpassed most estimates so far), it ends up with the second biggest third weekend of all-time, behind only Episode VII ($90.2 million). It's all but a guarantee Panther passes the $500 million plateau by Sunday, shooting it well past Avengers: Age of Ultron ($459 million) in virtually no time at all. Remember, there was a time when Black Panther was tracking at $400 million domestically for its entire theatrical run.
Helping Panther post these kinds of numbers, once again, is lack of competition. The week's new arrivals, Red Sparrow and Death Wish, are going to open well behind the Marvel blockbuster. Both should debut in the $20 million range, posing no real threat to Black Panther's continued dominance. Sparrow, which reunites Jennifer Lawrence with her former Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence (no relation), has earned a muted critical response. Plus, Lawrence's box office clout has taken a hit in recent years due to films like mother! ($7.5 million debut) and Passengers ($14.8 million debut). Likewise, Death Wish star Bruce Willis is no longer much of a draw, though there's some hope this throwback flick can be a comeback vehicle for the actor.
Circling back to Black Panther, the question now becomes if it can top the original Avengers' haul of $623.3 million. That's certainly within the realm of possibility as we turn the calendar to March. Next week sees the release of Disney's fantasy film A Wrinkle in Time, but the mixed reception may end up hurting its box office prospects. There's a good chance Panther maintains its strong legs a month into its run and ends up becoming Marvel's highest-grossing film of all-time.