So many records, so little time. Final “Black Panther” grosses are in: With Presidents’ Day adding $40.2 million to its already-staggering $201.8 million for the three-day weekend, the latest Marvel movie made $242 million in its four-day domestic total and clobbered all expectations. So where does Ryan Coogler’s superhero movie stand in box-office history? As always, when making comparisons we adjust past grosses to current ticket prices. (If we used the European system of reporting admissions in addition to box office we wouldn’t have this problem, but we don’t and so we adjust.)
All that said: “Black Panther” breaks records held by “The Last Jedi,” “Deadpool,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” — but falls just behind “The Force Awakens.” Here’s how it breaks down.
FOUR-DAY TOTAL: $242 MILLION
“Black Panther” is # 4, behind “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “The Avengers,” and “Jurassic World,” and it just beat out “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” ($241.6 million). Trailing at some distance in fifth place is “The Dark Knight” at $233.9 million.
The Monday semi-holiday helped, but it is in amazing company. “Jurassic World” was a summer release, “The Avengers” had the great early May play date with some schools already out, and the “Star Wars” films are a league of their own.
FIRST MONDAY: $40.2 MILLION
At # 3, “Black Panther” is close to “The Force Awakens” ($42.2 million) and just behind “Spider-Man 2” ($40.9 million). It effectively ties “The Force Awakens,” but it’s more than $6 million above last December’s first Monday for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” What makes “Black Panther” even more impressive is that none of those other films came so early in the year.
OPENING THREE-DAY WEEKEND: $201.8 MILLION
At #7, “Black Panther” is behind only two recent “Star Wars” openings (“The Force Awakens” at $261.6 million still holds the record), both “Avengers” titles, “Jurassic World,” and “The Dark Knight.” Among the films it topped are any animated film and all of the “Spider-Man,” “Harry Potter,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Captain America,” and “Thor” franchise titles.
OPENING THREE-DAY WEEKEND BEFORE MAY
It’s the best ever. “Deadpool” held the record, which broke all precedent by grossing $142 million in 2016. However, “Black Panther” shattered that record by $60 million. It also trounced “The Beauty and the Beast,” which grossed $181 million in March 2017, and “Batman v Superman,” which grossed $177.6 million in March 2016.
THREE-DAY MARVEL AND COMIC BOOK MOVIE OPENINGS
“Black Panther” is #4 among all comic-book openings, and #3 for Marvel. Only the first “Avengers,” “Age of Ultron,” and “The Dark Knight” fared better, and the last two are so close it’s really a tie.
THREE-DAY TOTALS FOR NON-SEQUELS WITH ORIGINAL CHARACTERS
“Black Panther” stands at #1 for this awkward designation, but it’s perhaps the most significant. Unlike the top two “Star Wars” films, “Jurassic Park,” one “Batman” and the two “Avengers” titles, “Black Panther” is neither a reboot nor a franchise entry with a range of previously seen characters.
Most films reach this number only by being grounded in a high degree of familiarity. While “Black Panther” is part of the Marvel universe and the lead was seen previously, he was only in a small supporting role. Its originality quotient separates it from all competition.
THREE-DAY OPENING WEEKENDS FOR FILMS WITH MOSTLY BLACK CHARACTERS AND/OR BLACK DIRECTOR
It stands at #1, period. Coogler’s third feature doubled the record for a film with a black director (F. Gary Grey’s “Furious 7” in May 2017). And with most lead characters also black, it is triple the opening for “Straight Outta Compton” in summer 2015.
That means this film reached well beyond intense African-American interest and attendance. Screen Engine/Comscore reported the initial audience at 37 percent black, 35 percent white, 18 percent Latino, 5 percent Asian and 5 percent “other.” If the A+ (top rating) Cinemascore of ticket buyers’ approval if accurate, the film could yet have a lot of room to grow.
Among top comic-book films, “Batman v Superman” had the worst-ever multiple off a strong opening weekend; even so, it doubled its opening. “Wonder Woman” had a four-time multiple. A three-time multiple for “Black Panther” would boost this to over $600 million seems more than reasonable, which would boost it to the rarefied territory of “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Goldfinger” (the biggest Bond) and ahead of the 1989 “Batman” and “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.” And, as we’ve seen, it could smash expectations and go even higher.
Its $169 million international debut (which doesn’t yet include China, Japan, or Russia, all top territories) is, by huge margins, the biggest result for any black-cast film. (“Straight Outta Compton” made $40 million outside North America.)
And that, with the world driving studio thinking, is possibly the most important achievement for “Black Panther” so far.