Wakanda forever — and for the fifth weekend in a row.
Disney and director Ryan Coogler’s superhero blockbuster Black Panther is on track to rule the box office once again, earning an estimated $27 million this weekend at 3,834 theaters in the U.S. and Canada. That figure should be enough to hold off Warner Bros. and MGM’s new Tomb Raider reboot, which will bow with about $23.5 million — but the weekend’s big surprise is Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate’s faith-based drama I Can Only Imagine, which is poised to outperform expectations with an estimated $17 million from 1,629 theaters, putting it in third place.
After 31 days in theaters, Black Panther will have grossed about $605.4 million at the domestic box office, making it the seventh film ever to pass the $600 million mark in North America. It’s also the first movie since 2009’s Avatar to top the box office for five consecutive weeks. Overseas, Black Panther has grossed about $577.1 million, putting its worldwide total at a hefty $1.18 billion.
The 18th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe stars Chadwick Boseman as the titular superhero, a.k.a. T’Challa, who leads and protects the secretive, technologically advanced nation of Wakanda. The cast also features Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Andy Serkis, and Letitia Wright. Black Panther has garnered glowing reviews and an A-plus CinemaScore.
As for Tomb Raider, the weekend’s No. 2 film, $23.5 million (at 3,854 theaters) represents a somewhat soft opening for a movie that reportedly cost about $90 million to make and is intended to breathe new life into the 22-year-old franchise, which began as a popular video game series.
Directed by Norwegian filmmaker Roar Uthaug (The Wave), Tomb Raider stars Alicia Vikander as the globetrotting treasure seeker Lara Croft, a role previously played by Angelina Jolie. Jolie’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider opened with $47.7 million in 2001, while her Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life opened with $21.8 million in 2003.
Reviews for the new Tomb Raider were lukewarm, though many praised Vikander, while moviegoers gave it a so-so B CinemaScore. The film fared well internationally this weekend, taking in about $84.5 million in 65 territories.
With its strong showing in third place, I Can Only Imagine will outpace Disney’s high-profile fantasy A Wrinkle in Time, earning about $16.6 million in its second weekend, and Fox’s well-reviewed gay teen romance Love, Simon, opening with about $11.5 million.
Directed by Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin and starring J. Michael Finley, I Can Only Imagine recounts the story behind the MercyMe song of the same name, the best-selling Christian single of all time. The movie received an A-plus CinemaScore from audiences, which bodes well for word-of-mouth prospects.
Love, Simon also notched an A-plus CinemaScore, while its opening is in line with industry projections. Greg Berlanti, the CW superhero mastermind, directed the movie, which is based on Becky Albertalli’s YA novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Nick Robinson stars in the story of a closeted gay teen dealing with blackmail and the tribulations of high school.
According to ComScore, overall box office is up 2.2 percent year-to-date. Check out the March 16-18 figures below.
1. Black Panther — $27 million
2. Tomb Raider — $23.5 million
3. I Can Only Imagine — $17 million
4. A Wrinkle in Time — $16.6 million
5. Love, Simon — $11.5 million
6. Game Night — $5.6 million
7. Peter Rabbit — $5.2 million
8. The Strangers: Prey at Night — $4.8 million
9. Red Sparrow — $4.5 million
10. Death Wish — $3.4 million