“Black Panther” is making box office history this weekend as its opening weekend estimates have risen to $192 million over three days and a whopping $218-222 million over the four-day President’s Day weekend.
If that result holds, “Black Panther” will pass “Avengers: Age of Ultron” for the fifth-highest box office opening of all-time, joining a top-five list that includes “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Jurassic World” and “The Avengers.”
Although the opening of “Avengers: Infinity War” in May is expected to push “Black Panther” out of the top five, it’s still an enormous moment not just for Marvel Studios, but for a rising trend of diverse filmmaking that has seen films like “Straight Outta Compton,” “Moonlight,” “Get Out” and “Wonder Woman” find critical and commercial success. In fact, if “Black Panther” can push the needle a bit more over Sunday and Monday, it could pass the $226 million four-day start set by the first “Avengers” back in 2012, making it the biggest four-day start ever for a superhero movie.
The full list of records “Black Panther” has broken is yet to be determined, but it already has some big ones under its belt. It has shattered the record for biggest February opening, previously held by “Deadpool” with $152 million. It has the biggest pre-summer opening weekend of all-time, beating the $174 million made last year by “Beauty and the Beast.” That $174 million mark was also the opening posted by “Iron Man 3” in 2013, making “Black Panther” the highest grossing superhero movie with a single hero. It also has the biggest start for a film with a black director, nearly doubling the $98.8 million start earned by F. Gary Gray’s “The Fate of the Furious” last year.
Critically, “Black Panther” has set marks, becoming the highest rated superhero film of all time on Rotten Tomatoes with a 97 percent score. It is also only the second Marvel film ever to earn the highest mark in CinemaScore audiences polls, joining “The Avengers” as one of only two films to earn an A+. Meanwhile, Fandango is reporting it is showing a significantly higher rate of repeat customers for “Black Panther” than it has seen for other superhero movies on an opening weekend.
As for the rest of the box office charts, second place will be taken by Sony’s “Peter Rabbit,” which is currently just barely ahead of Universal’s “Fifty Shades Freed” but is expected to pull away on Monday as it gets a boost from family audiences with kids on school break. The Beatrix Potter adaptation is estimated to make $17.25 million — down just 31 percent from its $25 million opening — with a four-day total of $22.1 million. That will bring the film’s total to $53 million.
“Fifty Shades Freed” will take third place with an $18.9 million four-day total, down 55 percent from its $38.5 million opening, bringing its domestic cume to $78 million and its global cume to $268.9 million. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is in fourth with $10 million over four days, bringing its total $379.6 million and making it the second-highest grossing film in Sony history behind only “Spider-Man.” “15:17 to Paris” completes the top five with $9 million over four days, which would give it a $26 million total.
In sixth is Fox’s “The Greatest Showman,” finally falling out of the top five in its ninth weekend in theaters, but not before it passes fellow musical “La La Land” on the domestic charts with an estimated $6 million weekend haul, bringing its domestic cume to $155 million compared to $151 million for “La La Land.”
Following “Greatest Showman” is one of two new releases this weekend, Lionsgate/Aardman’s “Early Man.” The latest stop-motion animated offering from the “Wallace & Gromit” studio is looking at a four-day total of $4.1 million from 2,494 screens, slightly below the $5-7 million projections set by independent trackers. The other new release is Pure Flix’s “Samson,” which opened on 1,249 screens and finished outside the Top 10 with an estimated $2.3 million.
More to come…