Although it’s still early days, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently on track to have the third-biggest opening for a superhero movie this year, Deadline reports. As box office reports from international markets and Thursday night previews begin to trickle in, Coogler’s sequel is easily outperforming both of Warner Bros. Discovery’s big caped offerings this year—the recent Black Adam and February’s The Batman. The only films it trails behind, in terms of comic book adaptations, are two of Marvel’s own: Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, and Thor: Love And Thunder, which landed smack in the middle of the summer blockbuster season.
Getting more specific, Wakanda Forever—in which Coogler and his cast reckon with a version of this franchise unexpectedly deprived of both its main character, and its leading actor, in the form of Wakandan prince T’Challa and the late Chadwick Boseman—has already brought in $58.8 million at the box office, before its opening weekend in the US has well and truly begun. That includes strong showings in a number of international markets, including France, Korea, and Thailand, with Australia, Brazil, and Mexico adding to the pot today.
One market where Wakanda Forever won’t be dominating, though, is China: Although the first film brought in $100 million in the country—its biggest performance in a non-domestic territory—the sequel, like the last several Disney films, apparently won’t be screening in the nation. Disney and China have had a number of high-profile clashes during the pandemic years, especially on the topic of the inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters in the company’s films. (Wakanda Forever, for instance, features a romantic pairing between two female characters, and while China hasn’t officially disclosed why it won’t be running the film in its theaters, it’s not hard to make the leap.)
Which might help explain why the sequel is also on track to come in below the original Black Panther, which ended up bringing in $1.3 billion at the global box office, with nearly half of that money coming from the international market. Wakanda Forever is currently running about 16 percent behind its predecessor at a similar point in its cinematic life cycle; it remains to be seen whether it can maintain similar momentum as it hits theaters this weekend, and in the weeks beyond.
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