Black Panther and the Box Office (New Substandard!)

In the latest episode of the Substandard (Subscribe! Leave a review!), we discuss Black Panther (which is good, a film that's firmly in the second quartile of MCU movies), and JVL explains why he gets a bit crotchety at forced enthusiasm for pop cultural objects that don't really need any extra hype. Send him your complaints, people.

Anyway, we didn't spend too much time on this, but I think it's worth discussing just how big a hit this movie has been so far. After the embed, a few thoughts on Black Panther‘s monster opening.

If you want to understand just how big a hit Black Panther might be, this Box Office Mojo chart is instructive:

There's an apples/oranges thing going on here because Black Panther‘s first Monday was a holiday, but still. Look at the Saturday and Sunday numbers! Black Panther totally crushed The Last Jedi.

Now, look: I'm on record as saying that The Last Jedi has to be a bit of a disappointment, financially, for Disney. (I'm not the only one saying this.Black Panther, meanwhile, could gross exactly the same amount of money—$618 million domestically, so far—and be an enormous, rousing, unexpected smash hit. Both of these things can be true simultaneously. It's all about expectations: The Last Jedi‘s box office haul represents a 30 percent drop off from The Force Awakens and word of mouth was obviously quite weak on the picture, given its enormous weekend-to-weekend drops in comparison with similar pictures. Black Panther, meanwhile, has already, in four days, outgrossed its peers (which I would define as Ant-ManThor, and Dr. Strange, the first movies about second-tier Marvel heroes).

We'll have a better idea of Black Panther‘s ceiling after this weekend—I honestly have no idea what to expect and wouldn't be surprised by a weekend-to-weekend drop of 40 percent (which would be an amazing hold) or 60 percent (which would be extremely disappointing for the studio and suggest that the movie's grosses were heavily front loaded). Somewhere in between is most likely; lord knows it doesn't have any real competition this weekend. But I feel pretty confident that it's going to crush The Last Jedi‘s second weekend and may beat The Avengers‘ second weekend too.

In short: If I were a betting man, I'd wager that Black Panther ends up outgrossing not only The Last Jedi but also The Avengers, and could end up making a run at Avatar for the second spot on the all-time domestic box office list.