NEW YORK (AP) – Already a much-celebrated pop-culture milestone, “Black Panther” is now a record-setting smash at the box office, too.
The Marvel superhero film blew past expectations, with $192 million in ticket sales in North America over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. That makes “Black Panther” the fifth-biggest opening weekend ever, not accounting for inflation.
The only films with a higher grossing opening weekend are “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” ”Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” ”Jurassic World” and “The Avengers.” It’s also the highest-grossing February opening weekend.
“All hail the King of Wakanda!” declared the Walt Disney Co. while reporting Sunday’s estimates.
The studio forecasts a four-day holiday weekend of $218 million in the U.S. and Canada, and a global debut of $361 million. Though the film’s international footprint doesn’t include several of the largest markets – China, Russia, Japan – it still ranks among the top 15 global debuts ever.
Ryan Coogler’s film, which cost about $200 million to make, is the most big-budget, largely black ensemble film in years and among the few to be centered on a black superhero. The strong opening suggests “Black Panther” will easily set a box-office record for films directed by a black filmmaker.
Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa/Black Panther in the first stand-alone film for the superhero created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966. The cast also features Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright.
According to comScore, 37 percent of moviegoers were African-American.
The movie has been hugely acclaimed, with a 97 percent fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences agreed, giving it an A-plus CinemaScore.