Thanks in large part to the phenomenal success of Black Panther, the February domestic box office crossed the $1 billion plateau for the first time in history. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always had an impressive commercial track record, but Ryan Coogler’s latest is something special even for them. From its opening weekend, the film has rewritten the record books, shattering a multitude of records as it rises up the all-time charts. If Black Panther keeps performing at this pace, it could surpass The Avengers as the highest-grossing installment in the franchise.
Black Panther‘s arrival could not have come at a better time for the marketplace. Following the one-two punch of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle over the holiday season, January was rather slow in regards to ticket sales. Audiences were starved for a new tentpole, which only added to the high demand for something like Black Panther. People turned out in droves for the month of February, and Panther has helped set another new record.
Per Deadline, February 2018 U.S. ticket sales grossed a cumulative $1 billion. Unsurprisingly, 43 percent of that came from Black Panther ($428.8 million), while Fifty Shades Freed ($91.7 million) and Peter Rabbit ($73.4 million) were also top contributors. The previous record for the month of February was $818.4 million back in 2012, when films like Safe House and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island drew in large crowds.
This is just another illustration of the value of spreading tentpole fare across the non-summer months. Traditionally, tentpole fare comes out from May through August, but that has started to change. Marvel themselves have found success in the fall (Thor: Ragnarok) and spring (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) before, proving that people will go to the theater to support a quality product no matter what time of year it is. The Fast & Furious series has also posted strong numbers in April, staying away from the more crowded summer period that sees a new would-be blockbuster released every week. Running unopposed is partially behind Marvel’s decision to move Avengers: Infinity War up a week to the end of April.
Disney, it seems, has learned this lesson quite well given their recent activity. Just last week, the Mouse House scheduled several untitled films through 2023, with dates peppered all throughout the calendar. Of course, Disney staked claim to some prime summer territory, but there are also a number of movies premiering in February, March, October, and November. This should ensure the studio’s dominance of the box office continues for years to come as all of their trademark brands expand.
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