Update: Black Panther crossed $1 billion in its 26th day of release.
Black Panther has the fifth highest-grossing opening weekend of all-time, so does that mean it will eventually cross $1 billion? Yeah, probably. Ever since tickets went on sale, Black Panther has narrowly beat the competition in virtually every category and at the domestic box office. First, it snagged the record for most tickets presold for a superhero movie. Then, it surpassed Captain America: Civil War in both Thursday night previews and opening day box office grosses. And then it landed the eighth highest-grossing opening day of all-time.
Considering that Black Panther is beating Civil War, despite the 2016 film starring all but two Avengers - not to mention the fact that it introduced both Black Panther and Spider-Man into the MCU, in addition to being based on one of the most iconic Marvel comic stories in recent years - its success shouldn't be undervalued. This is a movie that wasn't expected to top $90 million in its opening weekend but is now breaking records... in February, no less. With all of that in mind, there's a high chance that Black Panther can eventually hit $1 billion, but it won't be easy.
This Page: What Black Panther's Opening Weekend Numbers Say About Its Final Total
Black Panther's Opening Numbers Are Huge
Black Panther debuted with an estimated $192 million at the domestic box office over the course of its 3-day opening weekend, with an additional $169 million coming in from overseas markets. In total, Black Panther has grossed $361 million globally so far. It goes without saying that the North American box office is immensely important to Black Panther's overall success. But in order to hit $1 billion, it needs to fire on all cylinders to hit that coveted number, and it looks like that's exactly what it's doing.
Right off the bat, Black Panther is already off to a strong start to hit $1 billion based on its opening weekend gross alone. Only four movies have ever opened to over $150 million and NOT crossed the billion-dollar threshold: Spider-Man 3, The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Both Hunger Games films relied heavily on their domestic audiences because foreign moviegoers weren't interested in Katniss' story, while Spider-Man 3 and Batman V Superman missed the mark because both films weren't well-received by viewers (and they didn't merit repeat viewings on a large scale). Given that Black Panther's reception has been overwhelmingly positive thus far, and it's far exceeded the $150 million opening mark, it's statistically likely to hit $1 billion... eventually.
Interestingly, out of 18 MCU movies, only four have crossed $1 billion: The Avengers ($1.518 billion), Avengers: Age of Ultron ($1.405 billion), Iron Man 3 ($1.214 billion), and Captain America: Civil War ($1.153 billion). Each movie opened to over $150 million (as did Black Panther), but they also all hit at least $400 million domestically, and then were boosted towards the billion-dollar threshold by their performance overseas, particularly in China.
Black Panther has yet to release in the country, and while it's unclear how the movie will perform in that market, so far, the film seems to be narrowly beating all but The Avengers at the domestic box office, thus ensuring that it will hit $1 billion eventually. Black Panther's $192 million opening exceeds both Civil War ($179 million) and Age of Ultron ($191 million). However, its global opening of $361 million is far below both films: Civil War opened to $379 million, while Age of Ultron pulled in $392 million. So, it seems that audiences overseas may not be as interested in T'Challa's story as they were in, say, Iron Man's (Robert Downey Jr. starred in each MCU film that grossed over $1 billion). Because of that, it would be ideal to compare Black Panther's trajectory to 2017's Beauty and the Beast.
Whereas most Marvel films experience sharp second weekend drop-offs and rely heavily on international markets, Disney's Beauty and the Beast dropped only 48.5% in its second weekend. Plus, since it ended up grossing more than $500 million domestically, its North American viewers are what pushed the film past $1 billion. As long as Black Panther experiences a similar, sub-50% drop-off in weekend #2, then there's a strong chance that it will continue to do well in North America, which will be enough to propel it high enough to the point that China (and most other markets) won't matter as much as they would for other Marvel films. But what does Black Panther need to pull that off?
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