Forecasting a movie’s opening weekend box office take is a bit like forecasting the weather – the accuracy of the forecast increases the closer to the actual date you’re prognosticating about. Two weeks it looked as if the upcoming Marvel Studios film Black Panther was on track to earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $120 million its opening weekend. But with that premier just a few days away now, that estimate has been updated to approximately $165 million for the upcoming four-day President’s Day weekend.
Currently, Black Panther has a 97% recommendation rating from critics at Rotten Tomatoes, the highest score of the franchise, even beating out 2008’s franchise launcher Iron Man‘s 94%. If the audience connects with the film in the same way, word of mouth may drive the box office even higher during the second half of the weekend.
If the film hits around $165 million, that would place it as either the fifth or sixth highest opening weekend for a comic book film.
No matter where its numbers actually fall within that $165 million range, Black Panther is shaping up to be the first hit of the year.
Excitement for Black Panther has been building for more than just the past several weeks. The character debuted in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and fans were instantly abuzz over Chadwick Boseman’s take on the prince from the secluded and technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda who protects his people under the hereditary title of Black Panther. Interest increased when Fruitville Station and Creed director Ryan Coogler signed onto the film.
It should also not be discounted that there are not many action films that star a black lead actor whose name is not Wesley Snipes or Will Smith. While Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has featured another hero of color in the form of Iron Man’s friend James Rhodes, aka War Machine, this is the first film in the franchise to headline one.
In addition to Boseman, Black Panther also stars Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis.