Michael B. Jordan opened up on his experience sneaking into an opening night screening of Black Panther, which he did in order to see the reactions of fans in a normal theater setting. The 31-year-old actor definitely had to slip through some massive crowds in order to get into the screening undetected, because Black Panther has had some of the greatest early success of any movie – not just for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s projected to earn $243 million domestically over the four-day President’s Day weekend, the second-highest mark behind only Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Jordan is a major part of Black Panther’s high critical acclaim. He’s already establishing himself as one of the most compelling MCU villains, and he’s entered the conversation for the MCU’s best baddie to date. His volcanic, emotionally resonant performance will only raise his profile further. So it could be quite difficult for Jordan to be able to sneak into any future screenings.
Related: Can Black Panther Make $1 Billion?
ET caught up with Jordan on the red carpet at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game on Friday, asking him to describe what it was like watching an opening night screening of Black Panther with fans. As you’d expect, it was quite a different kind of experience than a premiere event or critic’s screening. The actor explained that he mainly wanted to see how actual fans reacted to the movie. Here’s how he described it:
“Honestly, everybody was laughing, they were yelling at the screen, you know what I’m saying? The gasps, the one-liners, everything was working so it was cool to see it with a normal audience – not at a premiere, not at a press junket. They were really engaged and interacting with the film, so it was good to see.”
It’s safe to say that Jordan left the theater satisfied with how fans responded to the movie. He also said that he wasn’t sure how fans would react to him playing a villain, which hasn’t been the norm for him over the course of his career. But he’s certainly happy with the positive reactions so far. Here’s what he said about that:
“It is a little relaxing to know people are really liking the performance. [Playing the bad guy] was something I’d never really done before so I was anxious to see how it would play and if it worked … it felt good.”
There are a lot of uncommon things happening at theaters that are illustrating the massive demand to see Black Panther. Jordan isn’t the only one who tried to sneak in; he was successful, unlike these two kids with a ridiculous trench coat disguise. Young fans who otherwise lacked the opportunity were able to get to theaters in droves, thanks to a viral crowdfunding campaign. And Kendrick Lamar, who produced and curated the Black Panther soundtrack, is teaming with his label to send up to 1,000 Los Angeles-area youths to free screenings. Add Jordan’s clandestine screening attendance to the list.
Jordan managed to elevate the character of Killmonger to one of the most memorable bad guys in the MCU, despite significant changes from the comic book version. Black Panther director Ryan Coogler took some big risks with the way he approached Killmonger, but they appear to be paying off in a major way. Much of the credit for that should go to Jordan for delivering such a charismatic performance, the kind that almost makes you forget about those changes. It certainly looks like Jordan has pleased the majority of the crowd.
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