‘Black Panther’ on Box Office Run That No Superhero Can Match

Marvel superhero flick bests 'Tomb Raider' for fifth-straight weekend at No. 1.

March 18, 2018 1:30 pm
Black Panther
A scene from Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER (©Marvel Studios 2018)

This weekend, Black Panther didn’t just vanquish another high-profile contender for its box office crown. The King of Wakanda performed a feat that no other superhero has before.

The Marvel flick finished at No. 1 for a fifth straight weekend — the first time a movie has stayed in the top spot for that long a run since Avatar, the top-grossing movie of all-time, in 2009-10, according to ComScore.

Holy historic runs, Batman, that beats The Dark Knight‘s run of four straight No. 1 finishes in 2008, the previous longest-run in the genre.

“To put this in context, most movies that open as big as Black Panther drop very quickly because there’s that initial excitement built on marketing and hype that fades,” Paul Dergarabedian, ComScore senior box office analyst, told RealClearLife.  “Staying  No. 1 for five weeks in today’s theatrical marketplace is almost unheard of.

“It’s not just a movie, it’s a cultural event,” he added. “If you haven’t seen Black Panther you’re left out at the water-cooler — real or virtual.”

This weekend, the Black Panther won the top spot with $27 million, besting second-place Tomb Raider (Warner Bros.), which opened with $23.525 million. The reboot of the video game adaptation, starring Alicia Vikander in the role Angelina Jolie made famous, follows in the wake of other upended competitors, including Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, which finished fourth ($16.6 million) in its second weekend.

One surprise subplot in the box office drama this weekend was the success of Roadside Attraction’s faith-based I Can Only Imagine which earned $17 million in just 1,629 locations (compared to the 3,834 screens that spooled Black Panther.)

“That’s a movie that’s appealing to another audience that feels underserved and underrepresented that shows you should never underestimate the power of a faith-based audience,” said Dergarabedian of the biopic about the band behind the most-played radio single in Christian music history.

But it didn’t have a prayer against the apex predator of the multiplex.

Just five weeks since its release, Black Panther has amassed totals of  $605.4 million domestically, already making it the seventh highest grossing movie of all time in North America and bringing it a Captain America’s shield’s throw away from topping 2012’s Avengers as the most successful film in Marvel history.

The film also has grossed $1.18 billion internationally, dispelling the myth that a movie with African American leads wouldn’t translate as well in global markets.

There’s little chance Black Panther will threaten to sink Titanic’s hold on the all-time record run of 15 weeks, but this is no less an impressive streak considering the modern exhibition era which spits out big-budget movies almost every week. Sure, Black Panther was aided being released in February, well outside the crowded summer season. But it couldn’t manage those numbers without bringing in legions of ticket-buyers each weekend, often for their third or fourth viewings. It is a landmark for diversity that is reaching a diverse audience.

“The message of Black Panther is so profound,” said Dergarabedian, “that for over a month now it’s still the story at the box office.”

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