Posted by Scott Mendelson | 19 February 2018 | 3,346 times
Black Panther just scored $25.2 million in Thursday previews. That’s the second-biggest MCU Thursday preview/midnight preview ever, between Captain America: Civil War ($25m in 2016), Avengers: Age of Ultron ($27.6m in 2015). It’s the fourth-biggest superhero preview gross, behind Avengers: Age of Ultron, Batman v Superman ($27.7m in 2016) and The Dark Knight Rises ($30.5m in 2012, sans 3D). So, inflation notwithstanding, Black Panther just scored a bigger preview gross than The Avengers ($19m in 2012 starting at midnight). So, yeah, it’s going to be a monster hit.
It’s the second-biggest pre-summer preview gross ever between the $19 million (in 2012 and in 2D) Thursday-at-midnight opening of The Hunger Games and the $27.7m Thursday gross of Batman v Superman (same weekend in 2016). Among all Thursday preview grosses not in the heart of the summer, it sits behind only the last three Star Wars movies ($56m, $29m and $45m), the four Twilight sequels ($26-$30m in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012) and Catching Fire ($25.25m in 2013). That’s also the biggest preview gross in history for a non-sequel.
The big question is how much frontloading we’ll see. Since this preview number is way above the standard MCU figure save for Avengers 2 and Avengers 2.5, I’m expecting more frontloading than the standard 9-12% MCU normal. But if Black Panther ends up the most frontloaded “Thursday-to-opening weekend” title in MCU history, say 15% (Age of Ultron earned 14.5% of its $191m debut weekend on Thursday night), it still gets to $168m over the Fri-Sun frame, which would be around $193m for the full Presidents’ Day weekend.
The four-day weekend puts a crimp into predictions, but even a run like Fifty Shades of Grey or Deadpool (the two prior Presidents Day weekend champions) gets this thing to an over/under $250 million for the Fri-Sun frame alone. That seems impossible on its face, and you must presume some severe frontloading from the sheer anticipation factor. But there just isn’t much precedent for a well-reviewed/much anticipated/well-liked film going from a $25m Thursday preview gross to anything other than a boffo Fri-Sun frame.
For example, if it ends up as frontloaded as The Dark Knight Rises ($30 million Thursday/$160m Fri-Sun weekend), Man of Steel ($27m/$128m), Batman v Superman ($27m/$166m) or Suicide Squad ($20m/$133m) or Catching Fire ($25m/$158m), we’re still looking at a Fri-Sun weekend anywhere from $135m to $155m. Heck, a Suicide Squad-ish performance ($20m/$133m) gets it to $168m, just above Batman v Superman as the fifth-biggest superhero opening ever behind Iron Man 3 ($174m), Captain America: Civil War ($179m), Avengers: Age of Ultron ($191m) and The Avengers ($207m).
Aside from having a super-frontloaded opening weekend (think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, the Twilight sequels or Star Wars: The Force Awakens), a $130 million+ Fri-Sun gross is now all-but-inevitable. And since the film is very good, has plenty of buzzy elements and has been anticipated for essentially a generation, I see little reason for anything beyond normal slowdown. Now that doesn’t mean we should weep in the streets if it pulls a Breaking Dawn and ends up with just $115m over the Fri-Sun frame (and around $135m over the full holiday launch). If I had to put money on it, which I am not, I’m thinking and an over/under $165m Fri-Sun launch and a $190-$195m Fri-Mon debut weekend.
And if the numbers are big, I fully expect Disney to underestimate the heck out of the Sunday results so they can get an extra day of positive news when the final figures are even bigger than presumed. One factor will be the sheer number of showings over the weekend essentially bought out for charities, churches and activist groups wanting to make sure that minority kids get to see the movie on the big screen. That may be a drop in the overall bucket, but it may help with post-opening day frontloading and keep the film in the news cycle all weekend long. There is a ton of wiggle room here, so let’s throw out a few benchmarks to consider as the numbers dribble in.
An opening above $117 million (Spider-Man: Homecoming) would be the biggest non-sequel MCU launch while an opening above $123m (Thor: Ragnarok) would be the biggest solo MCU opening weekend. An opening above $132m (Deadpool) would be the biggest solo/non-superhero superhero launch of all time. An opening of over $146m (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) would make it the biggest launch for an MU title without Iron Man. An opening above $147m (Furious 7) would be the biggest launch for a “not a white guy director” movie debut. A debut Fri-Sun launch above $152m (Hunger Games) would be the biggest non-sequel debut ever (and the biggest Marvel Comics adaptation debut, MCU or otherwise, which doesn’t feature Iron Man). An opening above $174m (Iron Man 3) would be the biggest solo superhero launch ever, and yes, I’m counting Captain America: Civil War ($179m) as a quasi-Avengers movie.
Some of these records are going down, so the only question is which ones or how many will belong to Black Panther by Sunday night. (Bloomberg)
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