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“It’s gratifying,” Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige told Heat Vision about the nomination. “The cultural impact the movie has had for almost a year now, all leads to this moment,” which he called “the highest form of recognition from our peers.”
Director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther earned $1.3 billion worldwide and was hailed as an important cultural moment thanks to its primarily black cast and themes of Afrofuturism and identity.
Feige, who watched the Oscar nomination from bed had been in contact with the Black Panther team to offer his congratulations. “To see an individual like Ryan Coogler — who had something to say, who had a story, who had a vision, who had questions about his life and his background — to put all of that into a story that resonates the way this film does was incredible.”
Coogler did not get a best director nom, but Black Panther did receive nominations for best costume design, production design, sound editing, sound mixing, original score and original song.
While comic book films dominate at the box office, they had been passed over by the Oscars in the best picture category until now. A decade ago, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008) failed to receive a best picture nomination, and the subsequent outcry was in part credited with the Academy expanding the best picture race from five to ten nominees.
Last month, NBC touted Black Panther‘s Golden Globe nomination in the outstanding motion picture – drama category as a way to entice viewers, and Oscars broadcaster ABC, which like Marvel is owned by Disney, is surely hoping Black Panther’s best picture nomination will bring a sense of excitement to this year’s telecast, which remains hostless. Last year’s telecast plunged to an all-time low in viewership.
In August, the Academy said it would roll out a “popular film” award as a way to connect with audiences, though The Academy shelved the idea in September. Observers had wondered if the category would be seen as a consolation prize for acclaimed films such as Black Panther that might not earn best picture nominations.
While best picture nominations have eluded comic book films historically, fantasy films have occasionally won best picture, such as Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water (2017) and Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).
When asked if Black Panther‘s nomination represents a watershed moment for the superhero genre in future awards conversations, Feige side-stepped any attempts at prognosis, instead offering up larger hopes for inclusion in the genre. “What I hope is the success that Black Panther does is open the doors for more filmmakers like Ryan Coogler and more representation on screen. Seeing the way the world reacted to the film and to Ryan’s story certainly encourages us as a studio to continue making films this way,” he said. “I hope that is the biggest takeaway from this recognition.”
Coogler is signed on for a Black Panther sequel, which Marvel has not yet dated. The first film is led by Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther and also included Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Florence Kasumba.
The Oscars will air on ABC on Feb. 24.
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