NEW YORK – A wave of feverish anticipation, fawning critical acclaim and groundbreaking cultural meaning pushed “Black Panther” to a record-setting $192 million debut in US and Canada theatres, firmly establishing the superhero sensation as a box-office landmark.
The movie scored the top opening day ever for a February release in Thailand, as well as the Philippines and Indonesia.
In estimates Sunday, Disney predicted a four-day holiday weekend of $218 million domestically and a global debut of $361 million.
Though the film’s international footprint doesn’t include several of the largest markets — China, Russia and Japan — it still ranks among the top 15 global debuts ever. It’s also the highest-grossing February opening weekend.
“All hail the King of Wakanda!” Disney declared, referring to the movie’s mythical and highly advanced African nation.
Ryan Coogler’s film, which cost about $200 million to make, is the most expensive movie with a largely black ensemble and among the few to be centred on a black superhero. The strong opening suggests Black Panther will easily set a box-office record for films directed by a black filmmaker.
But moviegoers — and Hollywood — were focused on Black Panther, including how it would fare overseas. Though considered by most to be an outdated myth, some have claimed that foreign audiences have less appetite for films with largely black casts.
Black Panther vanquished those notions with $169 million in ticket sales. It was No.1 in most international markets, though Fifty Shades Freed bested it in Germany.
Its release in China will come later.
The Associated Press