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In a defining moment for diversity and Hollywood, Disney’s and Marvel Studios’ Black Panther debuted to a record-shattering $242 million at the Presidents Day box office, according to updated estimates.
The bold superhero film passed up Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($241.6 million) to earn more in its first four days than any movie in history at the North American box office, save for Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($288.1 million), not adjusted for inflation. Black Panther also scored the biggest Monday in history with $40.2 million, besting Force Awakens‘ $40.1 million.
Black Panther‘s three-day haul of $201.8 million is the fifth- biggest domestic opening of all time, and the second-biggest for a superhero title behind fellow Marvel pic The Avengers ($207.4 million).
Throughout Presidents Day weekend, estimates for the film were continually revised upward.
Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther is the first big-budget studio tentpole to feature virtually an all-black cast.
In the $200 million 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, 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, a cloaked, technologically advanced nation in Africa that is home to the exotic metal vibranium, the source of Black Panther’s powers.
Black Panther was fueled by a diverse audience. According to comScore, 37 percent of ticket buyers were African American. Caucasians made up the next largest group (35 percent), followed by Hispanics (18 percent). That sort of demographic breakdown is unheard of for an all-audience event film. On average, African Americans make up about 15 percent of the audience for superhero fare.
Females also turned out in force to see Black Panther, heralded for its portrayal of strong women, making up 45 percent of all ticket buyers (that share is usually 35 to 40 percent on a superhero movie’s opening weekend).
Other records broken include those of the biggest opening for an African-American director, the top-scoring superhero film on Rotten Tomatoes (97 percent) and the biggest February bow, supplanting previous champ Deadpool, which took in $152.2 million over the four-day Presidents’ Day weekend in 2016.
Audiences bestowed Black Panther with an A+ CinemaScore (the only other Marvel title to earn the mark was Avengers).
Black Panther, which cost $200 million to make before marketing, also had a major push overseas, launching to $184.6 million through Monday for a global debut of $426.6 million. It opened in every major market save for Russia (Feb. 22), Japan (March 1) and China (March 9).
While Black Panther isn’t the sensation internationally that it is in the U.S., it came in ahead of expectations for an American film with a black cast.
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