The box office revived with the long-awaited release of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
The Marvel sequel earned $180 million in ticket sales from more than 4,396 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, according to estimates from The Walt Disney Company 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 both audiences and exhibitors, who have faced a slowdown at the box office since the end of the summer movie season and few big-budget blockbusters in the pipeline. The film opened even stronger than the first film with an $84 million opening day, including $28 million from Thursday previews.
“Some might have expected $200 million like the first film, but it’s solid,” said Paul Dergabedian, ComScore’s senior media analyst. “This is the type of film that theaters really need to drive audiences.”
The first film opened to $202 million in February 2018 and went on to gross 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 after director Ryan Coogler returned, but everything changed after the unexpected death of Chadwick Boseman in August 2020. “Wakanda Forever” became, instead, about the death of Boseman’s King T’Challa/Black Panther, and the grieving kingdom he left behind. Returning actors include Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke and Danai Gurira, who face off against a new foe in Tenoch Huerta’s Namor. The film will also face additional complications, including Wright being injured and some COVID-19 related setbacks. All told, it cost $250 million to make, not accounting for marketing and promotion.
AP film writer Jake Coyle wrote in his review that, “‘Wakanda Forever’ is too long, a little haphazard and somewhat mysterious toward a climax on a barge in the middle of the Atlantic. But Coogler’s fluid command of blending intimacy with spectacle remains captivating.”
It currently holds an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes and, like most comic book films, has high viewership ratings.
Superhero movies have fared well during the pandemic, but none have reached the heights of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which opened in December 2021 to $260.1 million. Other big launches include “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 since “Thor” to open over $100 million in July, which has been tough for exhibitors dealing with a wide-release calendar that’s about 30% lower than a normal year.
Holdovers made up the rest of the top five as no film dared to launch nationwide against the Marvel behemoth. In second place went to DC superhero “Black Adam,” with $8.6 million, bringing its domestic total to $151.1 million. “Ticket to Paradise” landed in third, in weekend four, 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 awards hopefuls have struggled in their expansion lately, but Searchlight Pictures’ “The Banshees of Inishirin,” with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, seems to be an exception. The Martin McDonagh film expanded to 960 theaters in its fourth weekend and finished seventh on the chart with $1.7 million, bringing its total to $5.8 million.
“It’s a very interesting post-summer period for movie theaters, with some gems like ‘Ticket to Paradise’ and ‘Smile’ doing well,” Dergabedian said. “But movie theaters cannot survive on non-blockbuster style films. The industry needs more of these. “
After “Black Panther”, the next blockbuster on the schedule is “Avatar: Waterway” coming on December 16.
The weekend wasn’t complete without another high-profile release. Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical drama “The Fabelmans” opened with $160,000 in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Universal and Amblin will roll out the film to more theaters in the coming weeks to build excitement around the potential Oscar-contender. Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play the parents to Spielberg stand-in Sammy Fabelman, who falls in love with film and filmmaking as his parents’ marriage breaks up.
“It’s going to be an interesting holiday season,” Dergabedian said. “I think a lot of dramas and independent films will have time to shine in the next couple of months.”
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at theaters in the United States and Canada, according to ComScore. The final domestic 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 Hunt,” $2 million
7. “Bansys of Inishirin,” $1.7 million
8. “One Piece Film Raid,” $1.4 million
9. “Up to,” $618,000
10. “Yashoda,” $380,000