Weekend Box Office: All Hail the King!

Exceeding even the wildest box office estimates, the latest Disney/Marvel offering Black Panther owned the North America box office over the President’s Day weekend. The critically acclaimed superhero epic scored not only the biggest February opening of all time, it’s also one of the biggest starts of all time.

Arriving in 4,020 theaters Thursday night, the game-changing Black Panther commanded a head-spinning $201.8 million in its first three days. With Monday’s holiday factored in, the opening could go as high as $235 million. Not only did the opening easily surpass the $152 million scored by 2016’s Deadpool two years ago, it also surpassed the $191 million opening for 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, a sequel that had the benefit of being populated with familiar Marvel characters. The dynamic start for Black Panther is the fifth biggest of all time, just behind The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, Jurassic World and the first Avengers film.

The daily breakdown for Black Panther is $25.2 million from Thursday night previews, $50.6 million from Friday, $65.9 million on Saturday and an estimated $60 million for Sunday. 404 IMAX venues contributed $20 million of this weekend’s opening numbers, the highest opening for any Marvel film in the IMAX format. The demographic breakdown of the opening weekend crowd was 37% African-American, 35% Caucasian, 18% Latino and 5% Asian. I am guessing the other five percent not reported by PostTrak were DC Fanboys and Russian Bots.

Reviews were overwhelmingly positive for the $200 million epic, directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) and starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira. Panther scored a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 88/100 rating from Metacritic, with many stating that the big budget film is a major barrier breaker for African-Americans in the film industry.

On CinemaScore, opening day ticket buyers gave the King T’Challa tale an “A+”, a grade bestowed upon only one other Marvel flick so far: 2012’s The Avengers. The latter should help translate into a long and extremely healthy run for the Wakanda saga, one that could challenge The Avengers for the title of biggest superhero film of all time by the end of its theatrical run.

Overseas, Black Panther landed a superb $169 million since Wednesday.

Sony’s Peter Rabbit dug its paws into second place this weekend with a decent $17.2 million from 3,725 theaters. Down only 31% from its debut, the ten-day total for Rabbit stands at $48.2 million. With Easter still a ways away, Peter Rabbit could hop its way to the $100 million mark by the end of its run.

The opening of Black Panther spanked Universal’s Fifty Shades Freed hard as the threequel went limp in its second weekend on 3,768 screens. With Valentine’s Day out of the way, Freed straddled 55% less in its sophomore session to score an estimated $17 million. Fifty Shades Freed has pocketed $76 million so far domestically and an additional $191 million from overseas. A North America finale near the $100 million mark is a possibility.

Sony’s long-running hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle landed in fourth place this weekend with an estimated $8 million from 2,800 theaters. Off a mere 19%, the nine-week domestic total for the blockbuster now stands at $380 million. If it can leg it out for a few more weeks before heading off to home video, Jumanji’s North America could wind down just past the $400 million mark. Overseas, Jumanji has scored $527 million.

Rounding out the top five was Warner’s drama The 15:17 to Paris with an estimated $7.7 million from 3,042 theaters. Down 39%, the latest directorial effort from Clint Eastwood has pocketed an okay $25.4 million so far.

  1.  The Greatest Showman (Fox) $5.1 million (-21%); $154.4 million

Even though it is no longer in the top five, the Fox musical continues to be consistent draw. The Hugh Jackman feature officially passed 2016’s La La Land and that is without the benefit of a slew of Oscar nominations.

  1.  Early Man (Lionsgate) $3.1 million (NEW)

The latest animated feature from Aardman Animation received decent reviews from the critics – 81% approval on Rotten Tomatoes and a 68/100 from Metacritic- but didn’t click with families more interested in Black Panther and Peter Rabbit.

  1.  The Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Fox) $2.5 million (-60%); $54 million
  2.  Winchester (CBS/Lionsgate) $2.2 million (-58%); $21.9 million
  3.  Samson (Pure Flix) $1.9 million (NEW)

Next weekend sees the arrival of Paramount’s sci-fi flick Annihilation, Warner’s Game Night and the teen drama Every Day. Black Panther will repeat at the top spot with possibly $85-90 million.

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