IMAX has confirmed that it achieved a record box office turnout in February, fueled by the staying power of Marvel Studios’ commercial juggernaut Black Panther. Director Ryan Coogler’s Marvel superhero movie is a true cultural event and its ticket sales around the globe are a reflection of how much the film is resonating with audiences. Black Panther is already the third highest grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe installment stateside ever after Joss Whedon’s Avengers movies, and its worldwide box office take sits at $729 million after some two weeks of release.
More important that the box office records that Black Panther has already broken are the positive effects that the film is having on the real world. Beyond encouraging theater owners to push harder for improvements in representation onscreen and more diversity in movies in general, Disney is donating funds to open new STEM centers in places like Oakland because of Black Panther and its themes/messages. Of course, there’s no getting around the importance of the film’s financial performance to its ability to inspire real change and progress in the everyday world, its IMAX gross included.
Per Variety, IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond has announced that the company achieved a box office record in February, thanks in no small part to Black Panther. The MCU tentpole grossed $35 million in IMAX theaters during its four day opening weekend and has continued to draw a sizable audience to IMAX theaters since then. Further helping IMAX to set a commercial record this month was the company’s performance overseas during the Chinese New Year period, where its business grew by 60% compared to the same frame in 2017. Black Panther itself begins playing in Chinese theaters next Friday, March 9.
Black Panther had IMAX theaters to itself for the first few weeks of its release, further bolstering its IMAX ticket sales in the process. That will change this week when Jennifer Lawrence’s Russian spy thriller Red Sparrow hits the scene, with March releases like A Wrinkle in Time and Tomb Raider slated to screen in the IMAX format over the weeks that follow. Black Panther is nevertheless projected to top the domestic box office yet again this weekend, and ought to be able to hold its own against the impending wave of studio releases.
Given its strong word of mouth and crossover appeal, Black Panther should continue to draw a solid crowd to its remaining IMAX screenings this weekend too. Early reviews for Red Sparrow have been mixed to positive, while the initial social media reactions to A Wrinkle in Time (following its world premiere) are similarly lukewarm at best. That further suggests that Coogler’s superhero adventure won’t be pushed fully out of the spotlight in the immediate future and will continue to dominate pop culture conversations, on its way to joining the $1 billion club.
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