The Marvel movie is nominated for seven Oscars, including two historic nods for best picture and best production design.
Nominated for seven Oscars, Black Panther has the distinction of not only being one of the highest grossing films in worldwide history, but also the highest-grossing superhero film ever at the domestic box office. Its best picture nomination marks the first time a film in the superhero genre has been nominated in that category.
Directed by Ryan Coogler and featuring a nearly all-black cast, Black Panther follows the rise of T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), next in line to be the king of the afro-futurist fictional nation of Wakanda. Following his father's sudden death, T'Challa discovers his true power and purpose as a Wakandan — not just as its leader, but as its legendary hero, Black Panther — amid attempts to reveal the powerful and prosperous nation to the world.
Below are 10 things to know about the Oprah-endorsed Marvel movie.
Grossing a total of $623.4 million at the box office, Marvel’s superhero team-up The Avengers held the crown as North America’s most financially successful superhero film since 2012.
But just over a month after its 2018 release, Black Panther took that title, grossing $630.9 million at the domestic box office by March, not accounting for inflation. By the end of the film's nearly six-month theatrical run, it became the third highest grossing film in North American box office history. Domestically, it's also the highest grossing superhero title of all time.
Worldwide, Black Panther has earned more than $1.3 billion. Originally slated to cost $150 million before budgetary additions were extended for sets and costumes, the movie cost $200 million to make.
Nate Moore, Marvel Studios' vp of development and production, would be the initial driving force behind T'Challa's move from page to screen. The only black producer in Marvel's film division, Moore advocated for the idea of bringing the African superhero to the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2010.
That was eight years before the film debuted on the big screen and a year before the first of three stand-alone films for Avengers Thor and Captain America were released. Moore told The Hollywood Reporter that Feige was invested in doing something with Black Panther when he first pitched it, but neither was sure exactly what.
It wasn't until the studio was working on Captain America: The Winter Soldier with directors Anthony and Joe Russo that Moore saw a perfect opportunity to introduce the character. When Marvel "needed a character who could stand toe-to-toe with Iron Man and Captain America," Moore said, he texted Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige with his pitch.
Kendrick Lamar’s tribute to pan-African identity earned a Grammy nomination for album of the year, only the third film soundtrack in the last 25 years to earn the distinction. A collection of songs curated and produced by Lamar, the album garnered several nominations for Lamar's and SZA's “All the Stars" and "King's Dead,” which features Jay Rock, Future and James Blake. The latter tied for the win in the best rap performance category.
Meanwhile, Ludwig Goransson, who has worked with director Ryan Coogler twice before, won for best score soundtrack for visual media. Goransson went to West Africa and South Africa to research sounds for the film, including a trip to the International Library of African Music in South Africa. In an interview with THR, the composer revealed the library featured a "collection of about 500 different instruments that don’t really exist anymore." He used those instruments to help give the score more focus on rhythm and sound.
As an installment in Marvel’s ever-expanding cinematic universe, Black Panther is most often categorized as a superhero film. But for director Ryan Coogler, T’Challa’s role not just as a hero, but as the leader of a prosperous African nation, made it more than that.
“We always saw it like it’s a character who’s the political leader of a fictional country, but we put it on a real continent,” Coogler said during The Hollywood Reporter's director roundtable. “We wanted it set it in a real world and that’s kind of how the character saw himself, how he identified himself, as a politician, so through that it’s definitely a political film.”
Amid the social media dominance of the Winter Olympics, presidential politics and K-pop bands in 2018, Black Panther still stood out online. The film was the most-tweeted about movie of the year, over fellow Marvel film The Avengers: Infinity War as well as another Disney release, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Over at Google, Black Panther was the only entertainment property to land on the list of the 10 most most-searched terms of the year, in addition to being the year’s most-searched movie.
During The Hollywood Reporter’s actors roundtable, Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman revealed that the relationship the Wakandans have to their homeland and identity was different than his own relationship to his African roots — and one of the toughest things to convey through the role.
“To say that I know so much about my past, I know so much about my history, which as an African-American, I’ve searched for that my entire life — but to be a person that didn’t have to search for it, it was given to me,” Boseman said. “There is a certain patriotism to something that has never been lost — it’s ancient. And being able to hold on to that, it was something that, throughout the movie, I was like, ‘Wow, the weight of that is something I have to convey to the world.’”
“You could do that movie and it’s a parody of that idea, and it’s insulting,” Boseman continued. “So I think for me, it was constantly wanting to convey that this is real because it is.”
In order to realize the nation of Wakanda for the screen, the movie contains more than 2,000 VFX shots of varying complexity. That includes scenes that are fully CG, such as the wide aerial shots of the Wakandan metropolis, and scenes like the fight in the casino, which involved a combination of stunts, special effects and VFX.
For the more technically demanding setting of Warrior Falls, Black Panther's VFX team worked closely with production design and took a scouting trip to Africa. Inspired by the Oribi Gorge in South Africa and designed by Hannah Beachler, the first African-American production design Oscar nominee, the set included 102 waterfalls each with "unique simulations that required a bunch of time and render power," VFX supervisor Geoffrey Baumann told THR.
"We even replaced the surface of the water [in the tank] because it didn't give us enough flow and danger,” Baumann said. “Ryan wanted that sense of danger that if you fell, you could get washed over the edge [of the falls]."
Like the rest of the Black Panther production team, costume designer and Oscar nominee Ruth E. Carter pulled directly from African culture to create the distinct style of Wakanda and its large cast of characters. Carter’s team included five illustrators, 14 designers, mold makers, fabric dyers and jewelry makers, among others, who drew upon real artifacts, textiles and jewelry from across the African continent. The team also took inspiration from designers Issey Miyake, Yves Saint Laurent and Donna Karan as well as the dress of the Maasai, Tuareg, Turkana, Xhosa, Zulu, Suri and Dinka peoples. The creative collaboration resulted in 700 costumes that reflect a fusion of futurism, high fashion and indigenous dress.
Defined by its highly advanced technology and a culture that had gone uninfluenced by the world beyond its borders for centuries, Wakanda isn’t just any fictional African nation. It’s an afro-futurist kingdom where even the sounds of machinery had to be distinct, according to the film’s supervising sound editor Steve Boeddeker. That often meant using flutes and percussion instruments as the base for sound — and when it came to Wakanda’s spaceships, bird calls.
“We went through all kinds of African bird calls, and we would pitch them and slow them down, and those became the tonal signatures to the spaceships,” Boeddeker explained in an interview with THR.
Black Panther became the first commercial film to have a public screening Saudi Arabia in more than 30 years, after a cinema ban dating back to the ‘80s was lifted in December 2017. The movie was screened at an AMC theater in the King Abdullah Financial District — the company's first of up to 100 planned multiplexes it plans to open — and was seen by both women and men following the Saudi government’s relaxed enforcement of laws banning co-mingling among unrelated men and women.