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Everyone's talking about 'Black Panther,' but will box office sales live up to the hype?

Just how much $$$ is the blockbuster going to make?
Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther
[Image: Marvel]

Now that we’re just days away from the release of Black Panther the anticipation surrounding the blockbuster is palpable.

The stunning critical response to “Black Panther,” which manifested into a Rotten Tomatoes score of 97%, has combined perfectly with the blockbuster’s marketing campaign and its avalanche of tantalizing clips and trailers to leave it on the cusp of becoming a pop culture phenomenon.

We’ve now been provided with the first indication of just how big “Black Panther” is going to be, as it has been predicted that the latest entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe will gross around $170 million at the domestic box office over its opening weekend.

That’s an increase of at least $50 million in just 2 weeks, as the original projections had “Black Panther” grossing somewhere between $100 million to $120 million on January 25.

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That estimate could prove to be soft, too, as “Black Panther’s” stunning reviews are likely to have increased interest in the film, which already had the prestigious honor of being the most-tweeted about movie of 2018.

While that might seem like a frivolous distinction, the 5 million plus tweets prove just how much discussion and excitement it has generated online.

“Black Panther” has also already sold more advance IMAX tickets than any other Marvel film, all of which means that it should sail past “Deadpool’s” $152.2 million from 2016, a record opening weekend haul for February.

“Black Panther” will now have its eyes set on trying to match the opening weekend grosses of “Iron Man 3” ($174 million), “Captain America: Civil War” ($179 million), “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” ($191 million), or even “The Avengers” ($207 million), each of which individually brought in between $1.153 billion and $1.518 billion worldwide.

If “Black Panther” can come anywhere close to these totals then it will be a stunning achievement for a couple of reasons.

First of all, these four films were released at the start of May, Marvel’s prime date for unleashing their biggest film of the year on audiences, which also usually signals the start of the summer blockbuster season, too.

In comparison, “Black Panther” is being released in February, a time of the year that is usually referred to as a cinematic graveyard, due to the cold weather, post-Christmas poverty, and the interest in awards season. On the plus side, though, that does mean that "Black Panther" doesn't have a bona-fide big-screen rival until either "Red Sparrow" on March 2 or "A Wrinkle In Time" on March 9, which help its gross continue to tick over. 

Also, each of the aforementioned four films were sequels, and were led by superheroes that had already established their solo movie credentials in previous installments. 

Not even Marvel’s most recent origin stories, released at the height of their popularity, have generated such interest. “Guardians Of The Galaxy” ($773 million), “Ant-Man” ($519 million), “Doctor Strange” ($677 million), and even the “Homecoming” ($880 million) for Spider-Man, a character with a long and storied cinematic history before he entered the MCU, each fell well short of such estimations.  

One of the big unknowns for “Black Panther,” though, is how it will fare overseas. Insiders are keeping their predictions close to their chests, but are expecting it to open anywhere between $75 million and $115 million. Even after that point, though, it will then be released in Russia, Japan, and China in subsequent weeks, too.

While “Black Panther’s” success in the US is all but guaranteed, a stellar performance internationally would have a longer lasting impact on the movie industry. Especially because as recently as November Chadwick Boseman was discussing how African American actors are still being told “our popularity and our movies don’t travel overseas.”

We’ll find out if “Black Panther” is the ultimate proof that suggestion has always just been a lazy excuse from studios not to make more diverse movies when it is released on February 16.  

 
 
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