King of the Box Office: Why ‘Black Panther’ Continues to Reign

In Featured, Industry Insights, Tyler Carlos by Amanda Valdovinos

– By Tyler Carlos –

March has been filled with highly anticipated and visually stunning releases, but none of them seem to be enough to beat out the king of Wakanda. Released over a month ago on February 16, Marvel’s worldwide hit Black Panther has remained at the top of the box office for 5 consecutive weeks, beating out strong competitors, including Red Sparrow, Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, and Tomb Raider.

Rarely does a film maintain the top spot for more than 2 weeks, so to have a film keep the spot for 5 consecutive weeks is almost unheard of. Other films that hold that honor include Forrest Gump, Terminator 2, and Mrs. Doubtfire, all of which are considered cultural classics. To top it off, Black Panther recently crossed the billion-dollar mark at the worldwide box office, solidifying Black Panther’s spot in film history. There has even been speculation that Black Panther is an early Oscar contender, which would mark the first time a “superhero film” has gotten such an honor.

Compared to the other Marvel giants, Black Panther is also on track to become the most successful Marvel film to date (a title that will be short lived – Infinity War comes out in one month). The most successful Marvel film so far is the first Avengers film. Avengers earned $623 million at the domestic box office in 154 days, or 22 weeks. Worldwide, Avengers earned over $1.5 billion in as many weeks.

Looking at Black Panther’s numbers, the Chadwick Boseman-led flick has already taken in $612 million domestically in 34 days, or 5 weeks. In the worldwide box office, it has accumulated over $1.2 billion in as many weeks. That shows only a roughly $11 million deficit domestically and $316 million internationally.

But why, though? What about Black Panther has allowed it to dominate the box office for all of March? Well, the first thing to look at is what’s happening at Marvel. Since the release of Black Panther on February 16, Marvel has released at least one new trailer for Avengers: Infinity War, which became the most-watched YouTube video in a 24-hour period. With so much happening in the MCU, fans are eager to get as many clues and prepare as much as possible for the Avengers film that will be released on April 27.

Then, you have to look at the cultural relevance of Black Panther. The film has been marketed to a much wider audience than previous Marvel films. It has appealed to the African-American community in a way that the other Marvel films have not, and the increase of minority audiences combined with the targeted audience of young superhero fans has pushed Black Panther further than imagined. The African-American community was clamoring for a leading African-American hero, as the other black heroes have primarily been seen more as sidekicks, and they have put all their support behind Black Panther.

Another aspect to look at is the cultural accuracy of Black Panther. The film takes place in Africa, and it is clear even to those who don’t have much knowledge of African culture that the filmmakers were determined to make the film as accurately African as possible. It led to a very refreshing and engaging film, something that moviegoers have rarely seen before.

Looking at the other wide-release March films that Black Panther has been up against, one can’t deny that these films didn’t really stand much of a chance either. Based on ratings alone, Black Panther clearly is superior. With a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes, it greatly outstrips the competition. Red Sparrow has a 47% score, A Wrinkle in Time has a 41% score, and Tomb Raider has a 50% score. So far, the March wide-releases just haven’t been up to scratch. Again this week, the only wide-release that could beat Black Panther is Pacific Rim: Uprising, which currently has a 47% score.

After 6 weeks in theaters, Black Panther could fall from the top spot, but that is to be determined. Should Black Panther beat out Pacific Rim and win the box office for the sixth week in a row, the last remaining wide-release that could beat Black Panther is Ready Player One. The highly anticipated adaptation of Ernest Cline’s nostalgia nirvana has been tracking well with preview audiences, and has an early Rotten Tomatoes score of 80%. It’s set for a March 30 release.

Regardless of the next two weeks, it’s clear who’s the king of the March box office. Black Panther has become a box office and cultural phenomenon that is here to stay… and I think everyone is okay with that. 

About the Author 

Tyler Carlos is a proud nerd originally from Baton Rouge, LA. He completed his undergraduate in Mass Communication from Louisiana State University, and graduated from JPCatholic’s MBA in Film Producing in 2016. In his off time, he enjoys Crossfit, escape rooms, and watching Gotham and This Is Us. His ultimate goal in life is to learn how to fly.