The box office revived with the long-awaited release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
The Marvel sequel grossed $180 million in box office sales at more than 4,396 theaters across the United States and Canada, according to estimates by The Walt Disney Co. as of Sunday, making it the second-biggest premiere of the year behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. . .” Overseas, it grossed an additional $150 million from 50 territories, bringing his worldwide total to $330 million.
Wakanda Forever was eagerly awaited by audiences and exhibitors alike, who have weathered a stint at the box office since the end of the summer film season and had fewer bigger-budget blockbusters in the pipeline. The film got off to a mighty start, slightly stronger than even the first film with a starting day of $84 million, including $28 million from Thursday’s previews.
The first film opened in February 2018 at $202 million and has grossed over $1.4 billion worldwide, making it one of the highest-grossing films of all time and a cultural phenomenon. A sequel was inevitable and development began shortly thereafter, but everything changed after the unexpected death of Chadwick Boseman in August 2020. Wakanda Forever was instead about the death of Boseman’s King T’Challa/Black Panther and the grieving kingdom that he left behind. Returning cast includes Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke and Danai Gurira, who faces a new enemy in Tenoch Huerta’s Namor. The film would also face other complications, including Wright’s injury and some COVID-19-related setbacks. All told, it reportedly cost $250 million to make, not counting marketing and advertising.
AP film writer Jake Coyle wrote in his review, “‘Wakanda Forever’ is overlong, a little unwieldy, and somehow mystifyingly climaxing on a barge in the middle of the Atlantic.”
It currently holds 84% on Rotten Tomatoes and, as is often the case with comic book movies, the viewership ratings are even higher.
Superhero films have done well during the pandemic, but none have yet reached the heights of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which opened in December 2021 at $260.1 million. Other big starts include Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. ($187.4 million in May), Thor: Love and Thunder ($144.2 million in July), and The Batman ($134 million in March).
Holdovers populated the rest of the top 5 as no film dared start nationally against a Marvel giant. Second place went to DC superhero “Black Adam” with $8.6 million, bringing his domestic total to $151.1 million. Ticket to Paradise came in third over its fourth weekend with $6.1 million. Julia Roberts and George Clooney’s romantic comedy has grossed nearly $150 million worldwide.
The weekend wasn’t entirely without other high-profile releases. Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical drama The Fabelmans opened at four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for $160,000. Universal and Amblin will be bringing the film to more theaters in the coming weeks, building excitement around the likely Oscar nominee. Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play the parents of Spielberg deputy Sammy Fabelman, who falls in love with films and filmmaking as his parents’ marriage falls apart.
Follow AP film writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr.
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