Black Panther earned $108 million on its second Fri-Sun frame, a drop of just 46% from last weekend’s record-crushing $202m Fri-Sun opening. In terms of raw dollars, it is the second-biggest second weekend gross of all time between Universal/Comast Corp.’s Jurassic World ($106.5m) and Lucasfilm’s The Force Awakens ($149m). It has now earned $400m in ten days of release, which makes it the third-fastest grosser of all time (for now) behind only Jurassic World ($404m) and The Force Awakens ($540m). Even if you adjust for inflation, it’s still only behind Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc.’s The Dark Knight, Marvel’s The Avengers, Jurassic World and The Force Awakens among ten-day domestic totals.
It also joins fellow Walt Disney release The Force Awakens as the only other $200 million+ opener to avoid the “$100m-losers club,” as it fell only $94m between weekends. That 46% second-weekend drop is a record for an MCU flick, holding even better than Paramount/Viacom Inc.’s Iron Man (-49%), Paramount’s Thor (-47%), Walt Disney’s The Avengers (-50%) and Disney’s Doctor Strange (-49%). Its $47 million Saturday (+66% from Friday) is the second-biggest “day 9” Friday ever behind The Force Awakens. Sure, it dropped more in weekend two than Wonder Woman (-43%) and Spider-Man (-38%), but the Disney tentpole is earning so much so quickly that it’ll be past Sony’s Spider-Man ($403m in 2002, sans 3D or IMAX) and WB’s Wonder Woman ($413m last year) in a matter of days.
Once that happens, then Black Panther will be the third-biggest grossing solo superhero movie ever. Once it gets past $413 million domestic, it’ll be behind only The Dark Knight Rises ($448m), Avengers: Age of Ultron ($458m), The Dark Knight ($534m) and The Avengers ($623m) among all superhero movies. Once it passes The Dark Knight (sans inflation), Black Panther will be the second-biggest superhero movie and the biggest solo superhero grosser ever in North America. Barring an unlikely comedown, Black Panther will end next weekend just past the $486m domestic total of Finding Dory to be the tenth-biggest North American grosser ever and among the top 100 when adjusted for inflation.
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Oh, but it may not stay ahead of The Last Jedi for very long. It had a (much) better hold and a larger overall second weekend, but Black Panther won’t have the advantage of Last Jedi’s post-Christmas weekdays. The Star Wars sequel made more on its second Mon-Thurs frame than its first. That’s somewhat normal for a big pre-Christmas release, which is why I wasn’t sounding the alarm bells after The Last Jedi dropped 67% in its second weekend. Now Black Panther may catch up yet again after next weekend, but we should note that The Last Jedi’s $620m domestic total isn’t remotely the bar for Black Panther’s success.
The only thing stopping Black Panther’s momentum is the sheer amount of “big” movies opening next month. And we’ll see just how big Red Sparrow, Walt Disney’s own A Wrinkle in Time (directed by Ava DuVernay and starring Storm Reid, natch), Tomb Raider, Pacific Rim: Uprising (starring John Boyega) and Ready Player One turn out to be. Assuming Red Sparrow (which is pretty good but very much for adults and not remotely like Atomic Blonde or Mission: Impossible) doesn’t go crazy, then Black Panther will have at least the three weeks that The Avengers had to run the tables after Battleship and Dark Shadows bombed.
Age of Ultron had to deal with Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2 in its third weekend, followed by Disney’s Tomorrowland over Memorial Day. Jurassic World ran into Inside Out on its second weekend and faced Minions in weekend four and Ant-Man in weekend five. Even Spider-Man had to contend with Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones over its third frame. We know both that big movies can thrive alongside each other, and that a big and buzzy hit can hurt the competition. But there is something to be said for Black Panther getting relatively clear sailing for nearly a month.
That’s assuming A Wrinkle in Time breaks out, although I shouldn’t have to explain why many who worked on Black Panther will be rooting for A Wrinkle in Time even if it causes the MCU flick to take a big fourth-weekend drop. Heck, we could very well see a late March weekend where the top movies are (in random order) John Boyega’s Pacific Rim: Uprising, Alicia Vikander’s Tomb Raider, Storm Reid’s Wrinkle in Time, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Jennifer Lawrence’s Red Sparrow. It may be up to Ready Player One to prove that big-budget franchise flicks starring white male leads aren’t box office poison. But that’s a highly ironic conversation for another day.
With Japan and China still on tap, Ryan Coogler’s MCU action drama has already topped $300m overseas for a $704m global total. It should be just over/under $900m worldwide by the end of next weekend, and it has already topped the likes of Man of Steel, Logan and Justice League, with Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($714m) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($709m) next in its sights. So, as noted above, Black Panther is well on its way to being the biggest solo superhero origin story/non-sequel ever. We’ll see if it can get past The Dark Knight ($1 billion), The Dark Knight Rises ($1.1b) and Iron Man 3 ($1.2b) to become Earth’s mightiest hero.