T’Challa is no longer just the king of Wakanda. After a debut weekend that defied estimates and cemented Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther as one of the most successful Marvel debuts in the studio’s 10-year history, he’s king of the box office too.
Early industry estimates (via Deadline) from the film’s four-day opening over the President’s Day holiday weekend in the U.S. peg Black Panther as having raked in a whopping $242 million—practically double was expected of the movie in early tracking released just last month. That doesn’t make it just the biggest box-office opening for an African-American director, or the biggest February opening in box office history, but also places it in the top five all-time opening weekends. It beats all of Marvel’s solo debuts and team outings, except 2012's The Avengers.
Heralded by breathless positive reviews and a hugely diverse audience (Comscore estimates show that 37% of ticket buyers were African-American, two percent more than caucasian viewers, and 45% overall were women), the movie is one of Marvel’s biggest success stories so far—even before accounting for the extra day of the holiday weekend, Black Panther is only behind 2012's Avengers in terms of Marvel’s best opening weekends at the box office.
If the estimates for the full holiday weekend hold out—Disney themselves have yet to confirm the numbers—Black Panther could pip Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s impressive $241.6 million to become the second-biggest four-day opening of all time, behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Black Panther isn’t just a wild success for superhero films, but a resounding refutation of the long-held Hollywood myths that either black audiences weren’t worth being specifically catered to at the box office, or that films with predominantly black casts/leads cannot sell movies. Black Panther’s cast, crew, and the diverse audience just propelled it into the history books and to the box office crown, and it is most definitely good to be king.