After difficult autumn, the first box office prediction for director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in, and it brings good news. According to sources with knowledge of NRG monitoring data made available Thursday morning, the Marvel Studios and Disney film should gross at least $175 million in its opening weekend (and that’s just for North America) if forecasts hold. As the last media push is launched, that number might very well increase.
When Coogler’s breakthrough Black Panther opened to $202 million domestically in February 2018, it set a record. The movie became a cultural sensation en route to grossing more than $1.34 billion at global box offices, making it the first Marvel tentpole with a predominately Black ensemble.
Comparisons will be difficult wherever Wakanda Forever premieres since the box office is still recovering from the COVID-19 outbreak. When Chadwick Boseman, who played the title character of T’Challa/Black Panther in the 2018 film, passed away from colon cancer in August 2020, the sequel’s path to the big screen had its sorrow.
After Marvel opted against recasting the part of T’Challa, Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole revised the screenplay. Along with Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Danai Gurira, Florence Kasumba, and Martin Freeman, Wakanda Forever’s ensemble also features Dominique Thorne as the superhero Riri Williams and Tenoch Huerta as Namor, a newbie to Marvel.
In general, superhero movies have shown to be more resistant to COVID-19 than other genres (exceptions include Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World Dominion, and horror titles). Spider-Man: No Way Home by Sony and Marvel debuted in December 2021 to $260.1 million, making it the second-highest domestic debut of all time behind Marvel and Disney’s Avengers: Endgame ($357.1 million), not accounting for inflation.
Highlights include the $187.4 million opening for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness from Marvel/Disney in early May of this year and the $144.2 million haul for Thor: Love and Thunder in July. The Batman, a joint production of Warner Bros. and DC, debuted at $134 million in March 2022. (However, there are no assurances. This weekend’s release of DC’s Black Adam, which stars Dwayne Johnson in his first live-action superhero role, is anticipated to gross somewhere around $60 million.)
Since the outbreak, only Universal’s Jurassic World Dominion ($145 million) and Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick ($126.7 million) have had domestic openers that over $100 million.