Disney and Marvel Studios' Black Panther is making history at the North American box office, where it's pacing to take in a record-shattering $205 million-$210 million over the long Presidents Day weekend after earning a rare A+ CinemaScore from audiences.
The tentpole earned $75.8 million on Friday, the eighth-biggest day of all time. Friday's gross includes $25.2 million in Thursday evening previews. Playing in 4,020 theaters, Black Panther drew a diverse audience on Friday; 37 percent of ticket buyers were African-American, while Caucasians made up the next largest group (36 percent), according to comScore. That sort of demo breakdown is unheard of for a marquee superhero tentpole. On average, African-Americans make up about 15 percent of the audience for such fare.
Black Panther will easily score the top February opening of all time and possibly the best showing of any superhero pic ahead of fellow Marvel title The Avengers ($207.4 million), not accounting for inflation. The movie's projected three-day haul of $185 million will also rank high up on the list of all-time openings. It will also mark the biggest opening ever for an African-American director.
Directed by Ryan Coogler, the $200 million film is a defining moment in Hollywood history, being a big-budget studio tentpole featuring a virtually all-black cast. In the film, Chadwick Boseman stars as 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 follows T'Challa as he is sworn in as king of Wakanda, a cloaked, technologically advanced nation in Africa that's home to the exotic metal vibranium, which powers much of Black Panther's tech.
Black Panther has generated enormous buzz in recent weeks, selling more tickets in advance than almost any other movie before it.
Two years ago, Deadpool became the February champ when taking in $152.2 million over the four-day Presidents Day weekend.
Black Panther is also making a major push overseas, where it is likewise out-performing expectations (American films with a black cast are perceived to face challenges internationally). The movie is opening in virtually every major market timed to its U.S. launch — exceptions are Russia (Feb. 22), Japan (March 1) and China (March 9) — and has collected a mighty $81.5 million through Friday. The U.K., where Black Panther launched on Tuesday, leads so far with $14.4 million, followed by South Korea ($14.3 million), Australia ($4 million), Brazil ($3.8 million) and Taiwan ($3.5 million).
Black Panther boasts a 97 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, the best of any title in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the rival DC Extended Universe. In terms of the A+ CinemaScore, The Avengers was the only other Marvel title to earn the perfect grade.
The only movies daring to open nationwide opposite Black Panther are Lionsgate and Aardman Animation's family film Early Man, which is pacing to open in the $5 million range, and PureFlix's faith-based pic Samson, which looks to take in only $2 million.
Feb. 16, 12 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
Feb. 17, 8:15 a.m. Updated with Friday grosses and revised weekend estimates.
Feb. 17, 8:40 a.m. Updated international grosses.