‘Black Panther’ Ready to Charge Into Theaters With $100 Million-Plus Debut

Superhero movie projected to become fourth straight Marvel film to gross more than $100 million

The first big blockbuster release of 2018, Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther,” is three weeks away, and the first round of tracking numbers have Ryan Coogler’s superhero film earning at least $100 million in its opening weekend.

That means that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is well on its way to having five consecutive releases with openings of over $100 million, having passed that milestone with its three 2017 releases and with May’s “Avengers: Infinity War” expected to open to around $200 million.

While early surveys have the film beating the $85 million opening made by “Doctor Strange” in 2016, analysts who spoke with TheWrap say they expect the film’s baseline to be higher, putting it at $120 million. In that range, “Black Panther” would be in the same neighborhood as “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Thor: Ragnarok,” which respectively opened to $117 million and $122 million last year.

As “Black Panther” is expected to lead directly into the highly anticipated “Avengers: Infinity War,” Marvel fans are expected to turn up in droves to see how Black Panther and Wakanda factor into Marvel’s big crossover event. In addition, the film, which sports a primarily African-American cast and crew, is expected to earn major interest from black audiences at a time when films with diverse casts becoming more frequent. Films like “Wonder Woman” and “Get Out” had major legs last year, and while March has some blockbusters like “Ready Player One” and “Tomb Raider,” the slate is not as strong as last year’s with “Logan” and “Beauty and the Beast,” so the path is open for “Black Panther” to be a major force at the box office well into the spring.

“Black Panther” sees Chadwick Boseman return to the titular role after his debut in “Captain America: Civil War,” as T’Challa, the new King of Wakanda, struggles to lead his people at an important crossroads for the advanced but reclusive nation. Some want to become more involved in world affairs while others want to stick to tradition, and all the while, T’Challa faces new threats from the exile Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), who conspire to dethrone him.

Ryan Coogler directed the film from a script he co-wrote with Joe Robert Cole. Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Martin Freeman also star.