Box-Office Preview: 'Wrinkle in Time' Races Against the Clock to Beat 'Black Panther'

A Wrinkle in Time Still 17 - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Ava DuVernay is the first African-American woman to direct a $100 million Hollywood movie; look for 'Black Panther' to bound past $1 billion globally by the end of the weekend.

It remains to be seen whether A Wrinkle in Time — based on Madeleine L'Engle's beloved book — can beat Black Panther at the North American box office this weekend in what's shaping up to be a Disney vs. Disney showdown.

Ava DuVernay directed A Wrinkle in Time, becoming the first African-American woman to helm a $100 million Hollywood event film. Tracking suggests the family-friendly movie, which hopes to appeal in particular to tweens and teenagers, will open in the $35 million-$40 million range, a relatively muted start for a marquee Disney title.

Not even the powerhouse studio is impervious to the challenges facing fantasy-adventures at the box office. In 2016, Steven Spielberg's The BFG opened to a mere $22.7 million over the long July 4th weekend, while Brad Bird's Tomorrowland was a major dud in 2015. (A huge issue for Tomorrowland was its $200 million budget; A Wrinkle in Time cost Disney half as much to produce.)

Outside of Disney movies, other fantasy-adventures targeting younger audiences that have faced trouble include Martin Scorsese's Hugo (2011) and The Golden Compass (2007).

Black Panther could take in north of $40 million domestically in its fourth weekend as it prepares to bound past $1 billion globally. Through Wednesday, Black Panther's worldwide gross stood at $921.3 million, including $512.6 million in North America and $408.7 million overseas. The movie opens in its final foreign market, China, on Friday.

No one at Disney, or in Hollywood, could have predicted that Ryan Coogler's Black Panther would continue to be such a force in its fourth weekend, or pose such tough competition for A Wrinkle in Time.

DuVernay and Disney have been lauded for the film's diverse cast, which stars Storm Reid as the story's 13-year-old heroine alongside Oprah Winfrey, Levi Miller, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine.

A Wrinkle in Time currently suffers a poor Rotten Tomatoes score of 42 percent.

Three additional films open nationwide this weekend, but none are likely to reach the $10 million mark in their debut: Amazon Studios and STXfilms' Gringo, a dark comedy starring David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron and Joel Edgerton; Entertainment Studios' The Hurricane Heist, directed by Rob Cohen; and Avrion's The Strangers: Prey at Night, a sequel of sorts to The Strangers (2008).