Sunday, February 18, 2018

Black Panther Becomes A Box Office Juggernaut With Record-Breaking Opening Weekend

"You will not be able to stay home brother
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and drop out
Because the revolution will not be televised
The revolution will be no re-run brothers
The revolution will be live" - Gil Scott Heron, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 

After years of anticipation, a Black Panther movie is finally here and it surpassed even the biggest expectations this weekend. With $192 million this weekend, the Ryan Coogler directed motion picture had the second biggest Marvel Cinematic Universe opening weekend in history (only The Avengers had a bigger bow), the biggest February opening weekend of all-time and the fifth biggest opening weekend in history. Furthermore, this was the biggest opening weekend to ever occur in the first four months of any given year while, on its opening day, Black Panther surpassed the $67 million haul of Insidious: The Last Key to become the biggest movie of 2018 so far and the project became only the second MCU title to score an A+ CinemaScore rating from moviegoers. People are loving this movie and it's pretty much a guarantee that it's going to be around in the marketplace for a good while.

Sometimes you can pinpoint a number of factors for why a certain blockbuster did so well, but for Black Panther, well, the reasoning is obvious. This film was an event like few films can ever truly be. After years of seeing Black characters in comic book movies in supporting roles at best here was a movie that gave a sprawling cast of Black characters a chance to headline their own adventure and provide inspirational heroism that hasn't been seen before in these sort of massively budgeted tentpole projects. After years of Hollywood saying people of color can't headline massively successful blockbusters, especially in overseas territories, here comes Black Panther to shatter those preconceptions and reveal them to be the nonsensical statements they always were.

With little competition in the weeks ahead, it's almost a certainty that Black Panther tops the box office for at least the next two weeks and all other blockbusters in March 2018 that aren't fellow Disney tentpole A Wrinkle In Time (that one's aiming to be a family movie blockbuster to differentiate it from Black Panther) should be getting pretty nervous about having to compete with with Black Panther right about now. At the very least, a box office run akin to the last February superhero movie blockbuster, Deadpool, would give Black Panther a domestic haul of $535 million, making it the second biggest superhero movie of all-time, dethroning The Dark Knight which has held that honor for a decade. We shall see in the weeks ahead if that domestic gross is achievable, but for now, I think the tagline on the Black Panther poster sums things up best: "All Hail The King".

In a distant second place, Peter Rabbit grossed $17.2 million this weekend, a 31% dip from last weekend. This one's already grossed $48.2 million, making it a solid hit for Sony/Columbia. Can they get this one past $100 million? No new family movies over the next two weeks, so I'd say it's possible, though an $85 million domestic haul would still be a win. Interestingly, Fifty Shades Freed had the best second-weekend hold of the entire franchise, going down 56% to gross another $16.9 million for a domestic haul of $76.1 million. Looks like this one should be able to become the second movie of 2018 to gross over $100 million domestically. Not even the King of Wakanda could distract audiences from playing another game of Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle as this blockbuster family movie grossed another $7.9 million, a 20% dip from last weekend, for a domestic gross of $377.6 million. Is this film gonna end up surpassing Spider-Man's $403 million to become the biggest movie in history for Sony/Columbia? I'm not betting against it. Holding decently was The 15:17 To Paris, which went down 39% to gross another $7.6 million, though it's still only grossed $25.4 million. There goes The Greatest Showman holding incredibly well again, as it this musical sensation went down another 20% for a $5.1 million ninth weekend and a domestic haul of $154.4 million that puts the title past La La Land to become the biggest original musical of all-time.

A newcomer to the box office that didn't fare so well was Early Man, which grossed only $3.1 million this weekend, a dismal debut that makes it handily the lowest domestic opening weekend ever for an Aardman Animation production and the fourth worst opening weekend ever for animated movie opening in over 2,000 theaters (only Teacher's Pet, All Dogs Go To Heaven 2 and Delgo fared worse). Yet another atrocious box office performance for an animated movie released by Lionsgate, it'll be interesting to see if this kind of box office performance means future Aardman animation efforts like Shaun The Sheep Movie 2 end up going direct-to-video in the United States. That's a sad prospect given just how good Aardman's films have been in the past (I haven't seen Early Man yet), but likely an inevitable one given just how badly Early Man performed.

Going down 59% this frame was Maze Runner: The Death Cure, which grossed $2.5 million for a $54 million domestic haul while fellow holdover Winchester grossed $2.2 million (a 57% drop from last weekend) for a domestic total of $21.8 million. Did you know a movie called Samson bowed this weekend? Grossing a dismal $1.9 million, this instant box office bomb had the lowest box office opening for any title released by Pure Flix into over 1,000 theaters in its opening weekend. Right outside the top ten was The Post, which dropped 46% for a $1.9 million haul this weekend and a domestic gross of $76.5 million, fellow Best Picture nominee The Shape of Water dropped 47% for a $1.6 million haul this weekend and a domestic total of $53.2 million. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri dropped 35% for a $1.5 million gross this frame and a domestic total that now stands at $47.9 million.

We still haven't gotten a major modern-day Chinese blockbuster to translate to massive domestic grosses but Detective Chinatown 2 did end up showing this weekend that such projects can still muster up decent sums of cash as it grossed $677,235 from 115 theaters for a per-theater average of $5,889. No word yet on how Monster Hunt 2 performed in its domestic opening weekend, though that thing is cleaning up in its homeland of China. The Party bowed in 3 locations and grossed $36,334 for a per-theater average of $12,111 while Best Foreign Language Film nominee Loveless grossed $30,950 from 3 locations for a per-theater average of $10,317. Nostalgia got off to a much more meager start as the first of many Bleecker Street 2018 releases grossed only $20,667 from 3 locations for a per-theater average of only $6,889.

The Top 12 movies this weekend grossed a total of $260.4 million, the biggest February weekend of all-time and the fifth biggest opening weekend ever as well as the second biggest weekend ever that didn't transpire in December. Black Panther was a major reason for such a massive figure like that, but Peter Rabbit and Fifty Shades grossing over $15 million this frame also contributed notably to such a record-breaking weekend.

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