Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is proving to be the box office drought buster that movie theaters hoped for, earning an excellent $84 million opening day from 4,396 theaters — including $28 million in previews — and is in line to at least meet independent projections of a $175 million domestic opening weekend.
While that’s short of the most optimistic pre-release predictions TheWrap heard from some rival distributors and analysts who believed the long-anticipated sequel could top the $202 million opening of its predecessor, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is still pacing for the second highest opening weekend of 2022. Depending on whether walk-up traffic on Saturday and Sunday is stronger than expected, the film could get closer to the $187.4 million opening posted by “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” back in May.
A good sign for “Wakanda Forever” is that it has broken the recent trend of weaker audience reception for MCU films. Over the past year, “Eternals,” “Multiverse of Madness” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” all failed to earn at least an A- from CinemaScore polls, but “Wakanda Forever” has earned an A from opening night audiences along with an 83% overall positive rating on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak. Rotten Tomatoes is also seeing mostly positive numbers at 84% critics and 95% audience.
As expected, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is comprising an estimated 85% of all domestic revenue this weekend, pushing overall totals above $200 million for the first time since the opening weekend of “Thor: Love and Thunder” in early July.
All other films have posted weekend totals of under $10 million, led by Warner Bros.’ “Black Adam” with an estimated fourth weekend total of $8 million, bringing its total to $150 million domestic. While “Black Adam” now joins “The Batman” and “Elvis” as the third Warner release to reach that $150 million mark, the film’s hopeful $67 million domestic opening has curdled into weaker-than-hoped holdover totals as chances for a Chinese release have dwindled.
With “Wakanda Forever” now in theaters, “Black Adam” is going to have to claw and scrape just to get to $400 million worldwide, a very disappointing fate for a Dwayne Johnson blockbuster with a reported $195 million budget before marketing costs.
“Black Adam” is only doing slightly better than Universal’s “Ticket to Paradise,” which is also in its fourth weekend and is pacing for a $6 million frame and a $56 million overall domestic total. With a $60 million budget, “Ticket to Paradise” is performing better than expected for its weight class and will cross $150 million worldwide. The George Clooney/Julia Roberts rom-com only dropped 26% from last weekend, signaling its continued legs as an alternative to superhero films for older audiences.
Universal is also opening Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans” as a platform release in New York and Los Angeles this weekend ahead of a wide release on Thanksgiving weekend. The semi-autobiographical drama based on Spielberg’s childhood and teenage upbringing is an early Best Picture Oscar contender after winning the TIFF Audience Award in September and is being seen as a crucial trial balloon for mature fare at the box office. TheWrap will have a report on its opening in four theaters on Sunday.