The box office came to life with the long-awaited premiere of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
The Marvel sequel grossed $180 million in ticket sales from more than 4,396 theaters in the United States and Canada, according to estimates by The Walt Disney Co. on Sunday, making it the second-biggest opening of the year behind “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”. Overseas, it brought in an additional $150 million from 50 territories, bringing its worldwide total to $330 million.
“Wakanda Forever” was eagerly anticipated by audiences and exhibitors alike, who have weathered a slow period at the box office since the summer movie season ended and there were fewer big-budget blockbusters on the way. The film got off to a powerful start, slightly stronger even than the first film with an opening day of $84 million, including $28 million from Thursday trailers.
“Some may have expected $200 million as the first film, but this is solid,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “This is the kind of movie that theaters really need to attract audiences.”
The first film opened to $202 million in February 2018 and grossed over $1.4 billion worldwide, making it one of the highest-grossing films of all time and a cultural phenomenon. A sequel was inevitable, and development began soon after with the return of director Ryan Coogler, but that all changed after Chadwick Boseman’s unexpected death in August 2020. “Wakanda Forever” instead became the King’s death. Boseman’s T’Challa/Black Panther, and the afflicted realm he left behind. Returning actors include Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke and Danai Gurira, who face a new enemy in Tenoch Huerta’s Namor. The film would also face further complications, including Wright’s injury and some COVID-19 related mishaps. In total, it cost about $250 million, not including marketing and promotion.
AP film writer Jake Coyle wrote in his review that “‘Wakanda Forever’ is too long, a little unwieldy and a little unnerving, leading to a climax on a barge in the middle of the Atlantic. But Coogler’s fluid mastery of mixing intimacy with spectacle remains exciting”. .”
It currently has an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, and as is often the case with comic book movies, the audience scores are even higher.
Superhero movies have done well during the pandemic, but none have reached the heights of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which opened to $260.1 million in December 2021. Other big releases include “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ($187.4 million in May), “Thor: Love and Thunder” ($144.2 million in July) and “The Batman” ($134 million in March).
“Wakanda Forever” is the first film to open over $100 million since “Thor” in July, which has been tough for exhibitors already dealing with a schedule that has about 30% fewer wide releases than a regular year.
Holdovers populated the rest of the top five, as no movie dared to launch nationally against a Marvel behemoth. Second place went to DC superhero “Black Adam” with $8.6 million, bringing his domestic total to $151.1 million. “Ticket to Paradise” was in third place, in the fourth weekend, with $6.1 million. Julia Roberts and George Clooney’s romantic comedy has grossed nearly $150 million worldwide. “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” and “Smile” rounded out the top five with $3.2 million and $2.3 million, respectively.
Some award contenders have struggled with their expansions lately, but Searchlight Pictures’ “The Banshees of Inisherin,” with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, seems an exception. The Martin McDonagh film expanded to 960 theaters in its fourth weekend and took seventh place in the charts with $1.7 million, bringing its total to $5.8 million.
“It’s been a very interesting post-summer period for theaters, with some well-performing gems like ‘Ticket to Paradise’ and ‘Smile,’” Dergarabedian said. “But movie theaters can’t survive on movies that aren’t blockbusters. The industry needs more of these.”
After “Black Panther,” the next blockbuster on the show is “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which is due out on December 16.
The weekend wasn’t entirely free of other high-profile releases. Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical drama “The Fabelmans” opened in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles with $160,000. Universal and Amblin will release the film in more theaters in the coming weeks to build excitement around the likely Oscar nominee. Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play the parents of Spielberg’s understudy, Sammy Fabelman, who is falling in love with film and movies while his parents’ marriage falls apart.
“This is going to be an interesting holiday season,” Dergarabedian said. “I think a lot of the independent dramas and movies will have their time to shine in the coming months.”
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at theaters in the US and Canada, according to Comscore. Final national figures will be released on Monday.
1. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” $180 million.
2. “Black Adam,” $8.6 million.
3. “Ticket to Paradise”, $6.1 million.
4. “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile”, $3.2 million.
5. “Smile,” $2.3 million.
6. “Devil’s Dam”, $2 million.
7. “The Banshees of Inisherin,” $1.7 million.
8. “One Piece Film Red,” $1.4 million.
9. “Up to,” $618,000.
10. “Yashoda,” $380,000.
Follow AP film writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr.