Call it fate that Black Panther, a pro-black Marvel movie featuring a mostly dark-complexioned cast and directed by a 31-year-old black man, would make history in the month of February.
The sci-fi flick, based in the fictional African country of Wakanda, raked in more than $700 million globally in the last two weekends and $404 million domestically by Sunday, just 10 days after its release. The $200 million film has yet to open in Japan and China.
According to Forbes, Black Panther also broke records in the first seven days of its release, earning $292 million in North America, making it the highest grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film in its first week. It stands in fourth place of top-earning movies in one week behind only The Force Awakens ($390.8m), The Last Jedi ($296.6m) and Jurassic World ($296.2m).
Redefining Diversity and Hollywood
Despite being an Africa-centric film, Black Panther has received support from a widely diverse audience. African Americans made up 37% of ticket buyers, followed by white Americans, who made up 35%, and Hispanics with 18%. Women, who normally make up 35% to 40% on a superhero movie’s opening weekend, made up 45% of ticket sales.
Overwhelmed by the record-breaking support, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler penned an open letter thanking fans and the press.
“Never in a million years did we imagine that you all would come out this strong. It still humbles me to think that people care enough to spend their money and time watching our film. But to see people of all backgrounds wearing clothing that celebrates their heritage, taking pictures next to our posters with their friends and family, and sometimes dancing in the lobbies of theaters often moved me and my wife to tears,” it reads.
Coogler launched his career in Hollywood five years ago with the critically acclaimed film Fruitvale Station, which is based on the real-life police shooting of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California. Now, Marvel Studios’ youngest filmmaker is being praised as the “new Steven Spielberg.” The American Black Film Festival (ABFF) alum was also recognized at the 2016 ABFF Honors with the Rising Star Award.