“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” had the major challenge of keeping up with “Black Panther,” one of the biggest blockbusters of all time, and had to do so without star Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020.
Despite all the challenges, “Wakanda Forever” landed a major box office opening this weekend. The Marvel movie opened to around $180 million in North America, according to the film’s studio, Disney.
The opening represents one of the best premieres of the year and makes the superhero film the highest-grossing debut film of all time for the month of November. The original record belonged to “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” which grossed $158 million in November 2013. The box office is hitting where most in Hollywood predicted.
The movie did $330 million worldwide to date.
It’s no surprise that “Wakanda Forever” did so well this weekend.
The film, which stars Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett as the princess and queen of the African country of Wakanda, comes from Marvel Studios – the most lucrative brand in all of Hollywood – and is the sequel to one of the most popular all the time.
When “Black Panther” hit theaters in February 2018, it opened to a stellar $202 million weekend. It went on to gross $1.3 billion worldwide and earned several Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. The film is considered one of the best in the comic book genre and one of Marvel’s best.
Audiences also likely bought a ticket to “Wakanda Forever” to see how the film and director Ryan Coogler would handle Boseman’s passing. In an interview with Empire magazine in September, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige said, “It felt like it was way too soon” to recast the late actor. Boseman died at age 43 of colon cancer.
As for its critical reception, “Wakanda Forever” scored an 84% on review site Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences also gave the film an “A” on CinemaScore.
“‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ faced an inordinate degree of difficulty, tackling the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman,” wrote CNN media critic Brian Lowry in his review. “The fact that the movie manages to strike that dark chord while delivering Marvel-style entertainment is a major achievement.”
The film’s solid opening comes at just the right time for theaters and Disney.
For theaters, the industry needed a blockbuster to help boost numbers, as notable new films have been hard to come by in recent months.
As for Disney, the media giant’s shares fell 13% on Wednesday after the company reported that its streaming business lost $1.4 billion last quarter, despite its growing subscriber base.
The debut of “Wakanda Forever” will have little impact on Disney shares as investors remain heavily focused on the company’s streaming efforts. But strong box office performances are helping Disney end a bad week on a high note.
It could also help build momentum for theaters with another potential Disney blockbuster on the horizon next month: “Avatar: The Way of Water.”