Marvel Studios returned to the big screen this weekend with the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The movie, co-written and directed by Ryan Coogler, was an emotional journey for everyone involved given the unexpected passing of Chadwick Boseman back in August 2020. But after a lot of sweat and no shortage of tears, audiences across North America and around the world responded to it en masse.
The Sunday estimates were solidified Monday morning when it was reported that Wakanda Forever had grossed $181 million over the three-day weekend in the U.S. and Canada and $330 million worldwide. Multiple records were broken with both figures, so let’s have a closer look at what they mean for the year, the exhibition industry, and the MCU as a whole.
HOW DOES THIS OPENING WEEKEND COMPARE TO INITIAL PROJECTIONS?
Early estimates for Wakanda Forever‘s domestic opening weekend were quite optimistic, and the movie eventually landed on the lower end of the projected range. The first tracking numbers were posted by Box Office Pro in mid-October and forecasted an opening weekend between $180-$225 million.
The Hollywood Reporter said a few days later that the movie would crack at least $175 million, though, they were leaving room for improvement. A few days before the movie opened on Nov. 11, Collider estimated that the sequel would make between $175-$185 million in North America and around $365 million worldwide by the end of its opening weekend.
There was a boost of enthusiasm regarding Wakanda Forever‘s possible opening weekend number a couple of days ahead of release when Deadline reported that the movie was surpassing the first film in terms of presale tickets, having made $45 million ahead of the movie’s debut on Nov. 11.
There is no surprise here, though, as presales have been consistently going up over the past few years from one event movie to the next one, without that necessarily being reflected on a larger opening weekend. That same report also pointed out that Wakanda Forever was lagging 20% behind presales for Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which came out this past May.
RECORDS SET BY BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER’S OPENING WEEKEND
With $181 million, the new Marvel tentpole has become the biggest opening weekend in November ever, surpassing The Hunger Games: Catching Fire‘s $158 million opening back in 2013. It is also the second largest opening weekend of the year, right behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ $187 million, and ahead of Jurassic World: Dominion‘s $145 million. It is the eighth biggest opening weekend ever for a Marvel Studios movie and ranks thirteenth of all time.
On the downside, Wakanda Forever was not able to beat the first movie’s record-setting $202 million back in February 2018. However, that movie also opened on a holiday weekend and had other factors going for it. It is unlikely that Wakanda Forever will be able to come close to the $700 million that Black Panther accumulated in the domestic market by the end of its run, though given the current landscape.
It’s likley possible the sequel will have long legs and perhaps even repeat the first movie’s five-week streak as No. 1 at the box office. It will also have a shorter theatrical run than the first Black Panther, but it’s doubtful the movie will be available to stream on Disney Plus before the end of the year. Last year’s Eternals, which was released in theaters around the same time, dropped on Disney Plus on Jan. 12.
HOW GOOD ARE THESE NUMBERS?
Overall, Wakanda Forever’s opening weekend numbers are excellent. The fact that the film was tracking even higher at some point should not be a source for concern, and we should all be celebrating the fact that the box office is getting back on track after a few months of being pretty much asleep.
Not even Dwayne Johnson shooting lighting from his bare hands was enough to crack a $70 million opening weekend. So here comes Wakanda Forever, asking the biggest movie star in the world to hold their beer. The fact that it wasn’t able to make the $202 million that the first movie was is not a detriment to this film, but rather proof of the absolute triumph that the first Black Panther was. Let’s also remember that that first movie obliterated box office forecasts, and was boosted by some of Marvel’s strongest reviews. (And for good reason, as it remains the only movie produced by Marvel Studios to receive a Best Picture nomination.)
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be the only player in the game for another month, until Avatar: The Way of Water rolls in, on Dec. 16. It’s a good candidate to cross the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office, and it would be the third movie to do so this year after Top Gun: Maverick and Jurassic World: Dominion.
As far as the MCU goes, Wakanda Forever is further proof that Marvel is still the King of the World at the box office, and superhero fatigue is still not kicking in for theatrical audiences. I believe we will continue to see this trend of strong openings for Marvel Studios as we shift into 2023, with Ant-Man and the Wap: Quantumania likely becoming the biggest film of the trilogy, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 aiming at a $180 million opening weekend, if everything goes smoothly.
The Marvels could also surpass what the first Captain Marvel made if it’s marketed the right way, appealing to both the general audiences and fans of both WandaVision and Ms. Marvel alike.
ABOUT BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER
Release Date: November 11, 2022
Director: Ryan Coogler
Story Writer: Ryan Coogler
Screenplay: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
Producers: Kevin Feige, Nate Moore
Costume Design: Ruth Carter
Cast: Angela Bassett, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Danai Gurira, Florence Kasumba, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Freeman, Tenoch Huerta, Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, Mabel Cadena and Alex Livanalli
Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje (including Florence Kasumba), fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda.
What did you think of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever? Were you one of the millions of people who watched it this weekend? Perhaps you even saw it more than once! And what do you think these numbers mean for the MCU, and exhibitors as a whole? Let us know in the comments and on our social media! Also, make sure to check out our review of the movie here, if you haven’t already!
Source: Box Office Mojo