Sunday March 04, 2018
‘Black Panther’ Passes $500 Million Domestic
Claws: good for fighting, less for counting.
Two weeks ago, “Black Panther” had the fifth-highest opening-weekend gross in history: $202 mil.
Last week, it had the second-highest second-weekend gross in history, $111 mil, second only to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
This weekend? The third-highest third weekend, $65 mil, after “Star Wars” and “Avatar.”
Add it all up and “BP” is now at $501 million domestic gross, which is the 10th-best all time. Unadjusted. Adjust and it's 87th. But that's with a bullet.
This is astonishing on two levels. “Panther” is a February release. That's afterthought territory for Hollywood. That's beta-testing. The previous high for a Feb. film on the unadjusted box-office chart was No. 37, “Passion of the Christ,” Mel Gibson's beta-test on religious movies/culture wars from 2004, which grossed $370 mil. Second? No. 41, “Deadpool,” Marvel's beta-test on R-rated superheroes from 2016, which grossed $363. That's it for the top 100. No other February release has grossed more than $300 mil. Only one other, “The LEGO Movie,” has grossed more than $200 mil. It's long-been thought to be a lame month when no one goes to see films. Don't waste your best on this less-than-prime real estate. That's the first reason this is astonishing.
The second is the mostly African-American cast. Even after Hollywood's love affair with the South was over (“Birth of a Nation,” “Gone with the Wind”), it was reluctant to be too progressive since it didn't want to lose Southern box office. “Black Panther” is in effect saying, “Fuck Southern box office.” Or maybe: “There's a new Southern box office.”
So where will it wind up on the all-time chart? Weekend to weekend, it's dropping slowly: 44%, 41%. (“The Avengers,” by comparison, dropped 50% and 46% its first two weekends.) It does poorer on weekdays, because it's not summer and the kids aren't out of school, but it‘ll obviously get up to No. 7 all-time (currently “The Dark Knight,” $534). Then it’s a big leap to No. 6, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” at $619. But I think it can do it. If I had to bet, I'd go No. 3 all time, passing James Cameron's “Titanic” ($659) but not James Cameron's “Avatar” ($760). We‘ll know more next weekend.
Either way, “Black Panther” is making history. Your old formulas Hollywood? They’re gone with the wind.