Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther has completed the final leg of its global victory tour with a heroic opening weekend in China.
The Marvel Disney tentpole pulled in $66.5 million from Friday to Sunday, the market’s fifth biggest debut ever for a superhero title, according to Disney data. Throughout the weekend, Panther commanded an impressive 55 percent market share.
The powerful China performance puts a final nail in the coffin for the pernicious myth that movies led by all-black casts can’t perform well internationally, particularly in East Asia.
Marvel tentpoles have consistently done big business in the Middle Kingdom but Black Panther’s $66.5 million opening haul far exceeded similar character-launch titles, including Guardians of the Galaxy ($30 million), Ant-Man ($42.8 million) and Doctor Strange ($43.6 million). It also beat all of the Thor films and each of the Captain America movies except for Civil War ($93.6 million).
Sometime later this week, it will cruise past $100 million, the usual marker of undisputed success for a Marvel movie in the market. The strong China tally also helped Panther gain entry to an elite club of just 33 titles to have earned more than $1 billion globally. As Sunday came to a close, the film had earned $562 million domestically and $516.6 million internationally.
Entering Panther’s wake, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is set to kick off a post-Oscar run at the Chinese market on Friday. Last year, Damien Chazelle’s La La Land rode its Oscar attention to a healthy $35.9 million total in China, despite the past poor performance of musicals in the market.
Panther could face a more formidable from Warner Bros.’ Tomb Raider, also opening Friday. The Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider movies came long before China’s box-office boom and never scored a release there. But Resident Evil, also a female-led video game adaptation franchise, has been a major fan favorite. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter opened to an enormous $94 million last year and finished at $159.5 million. Oddly enough, there are also impressive local precedents for movies about tomb raiding, such as Wanda Film’s Mojin: The Lost Legend, which earned $255 million in 2015.
Marvel’s superhero film Black Panther has taken more than a billion US dollars (£794m) at cinemas worldwide.
It is the fifth movie based in Disney’s Marvel Universe to hit the milestone.
The film stars Chadwick Boseman as the crime-fighting ruler of Wakanda, a fictional African nation with the most advanced technology on earth.
Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B Jordan and Daniel Kaluuya play key roles, with The Hobbit star Martin Freeman as CIA agent Everett Ross.
The film has been widely praised as game-changing – including by Michelle Obama – for having a largely black cast and a black director, Ryan Coogler.
Box office analyst Jeff Bock told the New York Times: “I think about it like a wall crumbling. In terms of Black Panther, no studio can say again, ‘Oh, black movies don’t travel, overseas interest will be minimal.'”