[This story is being updated as new box office data is released]
“Black Panther,” Marvel Studios’ massive, billion-dollar hit featuring a black superhero from the Marvel Comics cannon, has earned [updated] $612 million in theaters in the U.S. and Canada, which, as Scott Mendelson said in Forbes, makes it the highest domestic grossing (solo) superhero movie ever.
The majority black-acted film has also entered the top 10 for highest domestic box office of all time. “Black Panther” [updated] has now surpassed “E.T.” and “Star Wars” on that list, although that’s without considering inflation. Adjusted for inflation, “Black Panther” ranks [updated] 45th all time, ahead of “Batman,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Bambi,” “American Graffiti,” “”Airport,” “Goldfinger,” “Superman,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Back to the Future,” “Animal House,” “Cinderella,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Rocky,” “Men in Black,” “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Ghost,” and “The Hunger Games.”
Internationally, “Black Panther” has brought home [updated] $593 million, which, as Variety’s Maureen Ryan wrote, mauls “the myth that movies starring actors of color don’t perform well all over the world.”
The Ryan Coogler-helmed tentpole is on track to bring home more domestic ticket receipts than 2013’s “The Avengers'” record $623 million.
Yet, revenues are not the most important measures of this ecstatic coming together of art and commerce.
What Vox’s Tre Johnson rightly calls a “groundbreaking celebration of black culture” wins hands down (or “thumbs up!”) as superlative touchstone for broadening American identity.
Imagine if growing up, most of the people you saw on TV or in the movies didn’t quite look like you. And that this was true for all genres including the superhero niche. You could understand the storylines and know that these worlds existed or were wholly imagined as portrayed. But strangely and consistently, the people pictured inhabiting these fictional worlds, the superheroes and the lead actors meant to inspire or reflect everyone’s “real world,” none of the characters looked much like you. It would be unsettling.
Well, this jarring, twilight zone of experience described has in fact largely been the black and minority experience of watching TV and movies in America. Hollywood’s history of targeting audiences with all or mostly white casts takes up most of Hollywood’s history.
All of which makes “Black Panther” and its resounding success so great, so important and so heartening.
It was not made for one particular demographic that might count on “crossover” appeal like many Hollywood films. “Black Panther” is aimed at everyone via a storyline appealing to anyone, involving black characters and actors. It’s success owes to its message, which though it may seem “radical” these days is really not, it’s human. And that’s: Sharing knowledge and working together despite past heartbreak will in the end unite us, and probably, save the world.
Go see this film.