Nov 13, 2022 - Economy

Black Panther sequel brings momentum back to the box office

Films with the biggest opening weekends at the domestic box office, 2022
Data: The Numbers; Note: Among the 100 highest-grossing films released in 2022; Chart: Axios Visuals

Disney's latest Marvel movie, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," brought in an estimated $180 million domestically over the weekend, making it the second-biggest box office hit in North America this year and the biggest November domestic opener ever.

Why it matters: The film brings energy to a sluggish season at the box office.

  • No films have debuted domestically at over $100 million since July.
  • The box office brought in $729 million in September and October. the worst box office performance during that time period since 1997, barring 2020.

Details: In addition to its $180 million domestic haul, the film also brought in around $150 million internationally, bringing its total worldwide weekend opener gross to $230 million.

  • The film was also IMAX's biggest domestic November opener, bringing in $14.2 million. Globally, the film brought in $22.6 million across 800 IMAX screens worldwide. 
  • In addition to its commercial success, the film got rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. The sequel brought in more women than the original Black Panther, per Deadline.
  • One notable difference between this film and its 2018 prequel was the absence of the late Chadwick Boseman, who played the main character in the original Black Panther. Boseman's character was not written into the sequel.

Be smart: While still a success for Disney, the sequel didn't do as well as the original "Black Panther," which brought in $202 million in its 2018 domestic weekend opener, and went on to gross more than $1.38 billion worldwide.

Yes, but: Sequels don't typically surpass prequels in box office sales and "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" still beat Disney's own projections of $175 million in domestic opening sales.

Between the lines: The Marvel franchise continues to be a top-performer at the box office.

  • The top three domestic weekend openers of the pandemic era have been all been Marvel films: 2021's "Spider-Man: No Way Home" ($260 million), 2022's "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" ($187 million) and now "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" ($180 million).
  • Nine of the top 15 domestic weekend openers of all time are now Marvel films, thanks to "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."

The big picture: The box office still hasn't been able to rebound to pre-COVID levels.

  • To date, the domestic box office has earned around $6.3 billion in sales, down 33% from 2019.
  • Analysts predict that the industry will be able to more meaningfully recover from pandemic-driven setbacks in 2023.
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