This weekend, Marvel's highly-anticipated Black Panther hit theaters and the response was nothing short of incredible. Disney backed the movie with a nine-month advertising campaign, showing that studio was willing to invest in helping the film find the widest possible audience. The film was seen as a gamble by some, who clung to a long-held (and unsubstantiated) belief that films with mostly black casts wouldn't perform well overseas.
The gamble, if you're inclined to call it that, paid off in a big way as Black Panther shattered box office records and outdated misconceptions about what audiences want in a big budget blockbuster.
According to the New York Times (opens in new tab), analysts expected Black Panther to earn about $165 million in North America during its opening weekend. By Sunday, Disney was reporting that actual ticket sales for the long weekend will be closer to $218 million—and that's just in North America.
Global ticket sales for Black Panther are estimated at $387 million for the long weekend, with strong sales in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Ukraine, South Korea, Mexico, and Brazil. The movie is set for release in China, Russia, and Japan in the coming weeks, and strong showings there would be a big win since China is the fastest-growing movie market in the world. As the NYT notes, however, a poor performance in China isn't necessarily a comment on foreign markets' interest (or lack thereof) in black-led films. Hollywood films are underperforming across the board in China as more locally-made blockbusters are being produced.
Black Panther is also officially the highest-grossing film by a black director (yes, after just one weekend) and boasts a very rare A+ CinemaScore. And that's just four days into its run. Imagine what records it will shatter before its finished.
Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
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