The box office blues have finally been lifted with the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness remains
The box office blues have finally been lifted with the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness remains the year’s biggest opener with $187 million, according to estimates. In spite of this, Wakanda Forever’s $180 million opening is the biggest ever in November (beating the $158 million of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), the second biggest of the year, and the 13th biggest of all time (though the actuals will probably change a few spots). There was no other weekend since July 8-10 that went above $133 million, so it led an overall box office of $208 million, the fourth biggest of the year by far.
In February 2018, Black Panther opened to $202 million, but we shouldn’t expect to see the kind of legs that got that film to $700 million. It should perform well throughout the holiday season. Potentially repeating the five-weekend number-one streak that the first film did, and it shouldn’t have any problems becoming the second highest grossing film of the year, surpassing Doctor Strange’s $411 million. The audience response is strong. The reviews are also an improvement over the recent franchise installments, with the aforementioned films coming in at 74% and 64% respectively on Rotten Tomatoes, both at the lower end for Marvel films, while Wakanda Forever’s 84% is closer to franchise norms, though not meeting the high bar set by the first Black Panther’s 96%.
The sequel opened to $150 million internationally, which Disney reports is 4% ahead of the first film when comparing like for likes at current exchange rates. Overall, the global cume comes to $330 million. Can it become the year’s third film to make it past $1 billion worldwide despite China and Russia, which made up around $124 million of the first film’s $682 million international box office, being out of play? It may be tough, but it’s not impossible. Legging out past $500 million is plausible on the domestic front (that would be a multiplier of at least 2.7), and another $500 million abroad would be a drop of around $58 million from the original after excluding the two MIA markets. It’d be another story if audiences didn’t love the film, but the positive reception suggests that Wakanda Forever will outperform the legs on this year’s earlier MCU titles (Multiverse of Madness and Love and Thunder had multipliers of 2.2 and 2.3 respectively).
As for the rest of the box office, there’s little to get excited about. Nothing else grossed above $10 million as Hollywood shied away from releasing anything significant recently. When Black Panther opened in 2018, there was no counterprogramming that opened the same weekend. That weekend had an overall cume of $287 million compared to $208 million this weekend. The difference may not feel that large when a mega blockbuster is propping up the grosses, but the contrast is harsher when the mid-level films are the entire box office as we saw in recent months.