“Black Panther” stands a chance to become the biggest comic-book movie in history. Dropping only 46 percent in its second weekend, it’s reached $400 million in 10 days. And even more impressive than the low drop is its comes after a first weekend with a pre-holiday Sunday.
In adjusted numbers, “Panther” ranks as the fifth best second weekend ever, behind “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Jurassic World,” “The Avengers,” and the first “Spider-Man.” However, it’s by far the best second weekend before May. While it dropped more than “Wonder Woman” last June, it “only” opened a bit over $100 million, about half as well as “Panther.”
Ten days in, “Black Panther” is $22 million behind the adjusted figure for “The Avengers” in 2012. But with its smaller second-weekend drop (“Avengers” fell 50 percent), it remains in the race to equal that film’s (adjusted) $706 million.
It only needs $619 million to top “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which was 2017’s biggest domestic hit. Doing so will break the “Star Wars” stranglehold on top grosses for the past three years.
Its international performance remains strong, though not at the same intensity as domestic. With China and Japan yet to open (the two strongest foreign territories), it has amassed $304 million. Like “Wonder Woman” and the “Star Wars” films, “Black Panther” is made for the American audience first. If any of these films did the normal ratio of domestic to foreign, the current foreign take might be strong but problematic.
Still, the foreign performances of “Black Panther” and “Wonder Woman represent a major cultural breakthrough. “Thor: Ragnarok” grossed $540 million overseas last year, and “Black Panther” might not gross as much. But it’s still plenty to defeat the old argument that black films won’t travel.
That’s crucial, because franchises like the “Furious” films, “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and “Transformers” — which don’t have domestic potential much over $200 million — are a threat to American exhibition. That’s even more true now that two of the three top theater chains are owned by foreign groups (AMC/Chinese, Regal/British) that might prefer studios to concentrate on films with more international appeal.
Again, “Panther” provided a majority of the weekend’s gross, though not to the same extent. Overall, grosses rose about 50 percent from last year, when “Get Out” opened to $33 million. Year to date now has improved over 10 percent, which could be strong enough to put 2018 ahead for the foreseeable future.
Another positive sign this weekend was that the grosses from other films improved slightly from 2017. So even though “Black Panther” towers over the rest, it’s not just one film doing the business. Not exactly a rising tide raising all boats, but neither drowning them in its wake.
Three new wide releases opened this week, none breakout, but two at least exceeded expectations as relatively low-risk ventures. The best was “Game Night” (Warner Bros.) at $16.6 million, an R-rated comedy that performed close to the norm for similar films. It’s unusual that it increased from Friday to Saturday, especially by its 25 percent. One reason might be an audience that skewed older (70 percent over 35) and more female (56 percent) than the genre’s standard.
At $11 million, “Annihilation” from “Ex-Machina” director Alex Garland did exceed its pre-opening projections. Still, that’s a disappointment for the $40 million science-fiction film.
Paramount’s recent support of visionary directors (Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!” and Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing”) has found meager results. With its very good reviews and the residual impact of “Ex-Machina,” “Annihilation” should have made more. It would be wrong to project a loss, since we don’t know what Netflix paid for worldwide rights (outside North America and China); it will start streaming the film mid-March. And the film’s 40 percent Saturday increase is positive. Still, a disappointment.
Orion normally handles video streaming titles, but it made the top 10 with “Every Day” in only 1,667 theaters and $3.1 million. The young-adult fantasy film also had a Saturday uptick. Orion apparently had a social-media marketing drive for the otherwise low-budget title, but it will need to find word-of-mouth interest to keep it alive beyond a second week.
“Peter Rabbit” impressed most among holdovers, down only 28 percent its second weekend. Sony Animation keeps its costs down (about a quarter or less than the high-end Pixar), so this has a shot at being the studio’s second straight success.
The Top Ten
1. Black Panther (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #1
$108,046,000 (-46%) in 4,020 theaters (no change); PTA (per theater average): $26,877; Cumulative: $400,000,000
2. Game Night (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 66; est. budget: $37 million
$16,600,000 in 3,488 theaters; PTA: $4,759; Cumulative: $16,600,000
3. Peter Rabbit (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #2
$12,475,000 (-28%) in 3,707 theaters (-18); PTA: $3,384; Cumulative: $71,291,000
4. Annihilation (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: C; Metacritic: 80; est. budget: $40 million
$11,000,000 in 2,012 theaters; PTA: $5,467,000; Cumulative: $11,000,000
5. Fifth Shades Freed (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #3
$6,915,000 (-60%) in 3,265 theaters (-503); PTA: $2,118; Cumulative: $89.561,000
6. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony) Week 10; Last weekend #4
$5,650,000 (-29%) in 2,519 theaters (-281); PTA: $2,243; Cumulative: $387,284,000
7. The 15:17 to Paris (Warner Bros.) Week 3; Last weekend #5
$3,600,000 (-52%) in 2,752 theaters (-290); PTA: $1,308; Cumulative: $32,258,000
8. The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox) Week 10; Last weekend #6
$3,400,000 (-32%) in 1,601 theaters (-335); PTA: $2,124; Cumulative: $160,767,000
9. Every Day (Orion) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 53; Est. budget: $5 million
$3,104,000 in 1,667 theaters; PTA: $1,862; Cumulative: $3,104,000
10. Early Man (Lionsgate) Week 2; Last weekend #7
$1,700,000 (-47%) in 2,494 theaters (no change); PTA: $682; Cumulative: $6,779,000