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Black Panther set for record-shattering $218 million-plus US debut

Black Panther

Story by Jack Foley

MARVEL’S Black Panther has shot to the top of the US box office with a record-shattering opening weekend.

The Ryan Coogler-directed movie is estimated to have taken $192 million for the three-day weekend and a projected $218 million-plus for the four-day Presidents Day weekend.

It means the virtually all-black superhero movie can lay claim to the fifth biggest US opening of all time after blasting past pre-release expectations.

It’s also the best launch of any superhero film behind fellow Marvel title The Avengers, which earned $207.4 million in its first three days, not accounting for inflation.

Incredibly, Black Panther could climb higher still as the weekend is far from over in the US. Some rival studios show a four day total of $222 million-$225 million, as well as a higher three day total in the $195 million range.

Other records Black Panther can now call its own include the biggest opening for an African-American director, the top-scoring superhero film on Rotten Tomatoes (97%) and the biggest February bow, supplanting previous champ Deadpool, which took in $152.2 million over the four-day Presidents Day weekend in 2016.

Commenting on the early figures, Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis said: “There are seven billion people on this planet and they come from all walks of life. Audiences deserve to see themselves reflected on the big screen. Beyond being the right thing to do, it makes for richer storytelling.”

In Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman plays T’Challa/Black Panther alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis.

The story, described as a tale of black power and black pride in addition to its superhero themes, follows T’Challa as he is sworn in as king of Wakanda, and tries to become the best leader he can for the cloaked, technologically advanced nation. Problems occur when a surprise challenger for the throne emerges, who wants to use Wakanda’s technology to empower oppressed black people all around the world.

Black Panther also came in ahead of expectations overseas, where it earned another whopping $169 million for an estimated global bow of $387 million through Monday.

In the UK/Ireland, the film enjoyed a $24.8 million launch, the best showing of any Marvel title behind Avengers: Age of Ultron and eclipsing the entire runs of Justice League, Ant-Man and the first instalments in the Captain America and Thor franchises.

Back in the US, the only movies daring to open nationwide opposite Black Panther were Lionsgate and Aardman Animation’s family film Early Man and PureFlix’s faith-based Samson.

The former placed seventh with an estimated four-day gross of $4.2 million, while Samson came in 11th with an estimated $2.4 million.

The US top five consists of Black Panther at the top, Peter Rabbit in second with an estimated $17.3 million, Fifty Shades Freed in third with an estimated $16.9 million, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle in fourth with an estimated $7.9 million and Clint Eastwood’s The 15:17 To Paris, which came in fifth with an estimated $7.7 million.