Black Panther is roaring to life and smashing the competition at the box office.

The 18th installment of the Disney mega-franchise known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is on track to earn about $218 million at 4,020 theaters in the U.S. and Canada over the long Presidents Day weekend, far exceeding analysts’ projections and delivering summer-blockbuster-style numbers in a month not usually associated with high turnout.

Black Panther’s estimated three-day gross of $192 million represents the highest debut ever for a February film — far outstripping Deadpool’s $132.4 million — and the fifth-highest Friday-Sunday bow of all time, not adjusting for inflation. Disney releases now account for eight of the top 10 opening weekends ever, with five of those being MCU movies. (All 18 MCU movies have debuted at No. 1.)

Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman as the titular superhero, a.k.a. T’Challa, who rules and protects the secretive, technologically advanced nation of Wakanda. The cast also includes Michael B. Jordan and Andy Serkis as villains Erik Killmonger and Ulysses Klaue, and Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright as three of T’Challa’s closest allies.

Coogler’s film — which heralds the biggest opening ever by a black director and the top-grossing movie with a predominantly black cast — has received stellar reviews from critics and an A-plus CinemaScore from moviegoers, indicating excellent word-of-mouth prospects. Black Panther is the first MCU film to receive an A-plus since the original Avengers in 2012.

Black Panther, which reportedly cost about $200 million to make, is also doing robust business overseas, raking in an estimated $169 million through Sunday. That figure should further refute a longstanding Hollywood myth that movies based in black culture can’t become global hits.

HOGNOB and DUG (Eddie Redmayne) in EARLY MAN. Photo courtesy of Aardman.
Credit: Aardman

The weekend’s other new releases, Lionsgate’s prehistoric animated movie Early Man and Pure Flix’s biblical tale Samson, are on track for the No. 7 and No. 10 spots, respectively. Early Man will gross about $3.2 million through Sunday ($4.2 million through Monday), and Samson will take in about $2 million through Sunday ($2.3 million through Monday).

Last weekend’s winner, Fifty Shades Freed, drops down to third place with an estimated $16.9 million through Sunday ($18.9 million through Monday).

According to ComScore, overall box office is up 6.1 percent year-to-date. Check out the Feb. 16-18 figures below.

1. Black Panther — $192 million ($218 million through Monday)
2. Peter Rabbit — $17.3 million ($22.1 through Monday)
3. Fifty Shades Freed — $16.9 million ($18.9 through Monday)
4. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle — $7.9 million ($10 million through Monday)
5. The 15:17 to Paris — $7.7 million ($9 million through Monday)
6. The Greatest Showman — $5.1 million ($6.3 million through Monday)
7. Early Man — $3.2 million ($4.2 million through Monday)
8. Maze Runner: The Death Cure — $2.5 million ($3 million through Monday)
9. Winchester — $2.2 million ($2.7 million through Monday)
10. Samson — $2 million ($2.3 million through Monday)

Black Panther
Directed by Ryan Coogler, the 2018 superhero film is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name and stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, the king who rules over the Afrofuturist paradise of Wakanda.
  • Movie
  • 135 minutes
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