Black Panther smashes North American box office records and Hollywood myths

SPH Brightcove Video
Film fans, actors and comic enthusiasts in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos flock to screenings of Marvel superhero movie Black Panther.
Black Panther instantly became the top-grossing film in history by a black director (Ryan Coogler) and featuring a largely black cast. PHOTO: WALT DISNEY PICTURES

LOS ANGELES (NYTIMES) - Hail, King T'Challa.

The Disney-Marvel movie Black Panther, which finds the superheroic T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returning to his remote African kingdom to assume the throne, roared into theatres over the weekend as a full-blown cultural event, breaking box office records and shattering a myth about the overseas viability of movies rooted in black culture. Global ticket sales by Monday (Feb 19) will total an estimated US$387 million (S$507 million), according to comScore.

Black Panther instantly became the top-grossing film in history by a black director (Ryan Coogler) and featuring a largely black cast. The previous record-holder was Straight Outta Compton, which collected US$214 million worldwide in 2015 - over its entire run - after adjusting for inflation.

Disney, which supported Black Panther with a lavish nine-month marketing campaign, said Sunday that ticket sales for the film in North America will total roughly US$218 million between Friday and Monday. Theatres scrambled to add show times to accommodate crowds. In many cities, moviegoers arrived in outfits inspired by the film.

Analysts had expected Black Panther to arrive to about US$165 million in North American ticket sales, which would itself have been an astounding result for a release outside the holiday and summer corridors. The previous domestic record-holder for a February release was Deadpool, which collected an adjusted US$159 million over Presidents Day weekend in 2016.

There was never any doubt that Black Panther would rock the North American box office. Kevin Feige, the prodigy who runs Marvel, and Alan F. Horn, Disney's movie chairman, have delivered one juggernaut after another. Robert A. Iger, Disney's chief executive, took a personal interest in Black Panther, approving its US$200 million production budget (at least 30 percent more than budgets for other Marvel nonsequels like Doctor Strange and Ant-Man) despite concern by some at Disney about sales of Black Panther toys.

But no one quite knew how Black Panther would perform overseas.

Black Panther arrived to very strong results in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Ukraine, South Korea, Mexico and Brazil, in many cases beating initial ticket sales for Marvel nonsequels based on lesser-known characters, including Guardians Of The Galaxy in 2014.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.