Analysts are already predicting that Black Panther would be another domestic box office hit, with surveys revealing an estimated $100 million earnings during opening weekend.
The anticipation builds up as the Marvel film is nearing its theater release during the four-day Presidents' Day weekend. Early pre-release tracking on Thursday revealed an astounding $100 million to $120 million at the North American box office. Other surveys also have the film as high as $150 million, although the $100M-plus is a guarantee for opening sales.
Precursors to the anticipated opening weekend numbers are advanced ticket sales and viewer awareness. Ticketing merchant Fandango revealed that Black Panther beat Captain America: Civil War in its first 24 hours when tickets went on sale earlier this month.
Meanwhile, tracking showed total awareness at 96 percent. The 49 percent of African Americans chose Black Panther as their first film, 26 percent Hispanic, and 21 percent Caucasian. Unaided awareness, which refers to a sector in movie polls that cite a particular film without any influence from a pollster, is at 35 percent.
The numbers put the Ryan Coogler-directed movie at par with previous blockbuster Marvel films. The Tom Holland-starring film Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok were winners at the domestic box office. The Spider-Man reboot debuted to a whopping $117 million in July while Chris Hemsworth's film opened to $122 million in November and earned $851 million in global sales.
Marvel's stand-alone film Doctor Strange also earned $85 million for its three-day debut in November 2016. Given the off chance that the pre-release tracking is correct, Black Panther becomes the highest-grossing film of 2018 to date for its opening weekend alone.
Black Panther opens in North American theaters on Feb. 16. It is the 18th film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its first for 2018. The film stars Chadwick Boseman as the titular character otherwise known in the fictional country of Wakanda as T'Challa. Other cast includes Michael B. Jordan who plays the villain Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Forest Whitaker as Zuri, Danai Gurira as Okoye, and Letitia Wright as Shuri, to name a few.
Martin Freeman, who plays Everett K. Ross in Captain America: Civil War, also reprises his role in Black Panther. Rumors have it that he likely becomes an ally to T'Challa. Andy Serkis also returns as W'Kabi, the arms dealer from Avengers: Age of Ultron. He becomes Erik Killmonger's associate as seen in the trailer for the film.