“Black Panther,” the latest superhero blockbuster from Marvel Studios, grossed a massive $25.2 million in ticket sales from preview shows Thursday in the U.S. and Canada to set a February record, according to studio estimates.
The Thursday night result for “Black Panther” nearly doubled the previous February box office preview record holder, 20th Century Fox’s “Deadpool,” which opened with $12.7 million on its first night in 2016. It’s also the second-highest box office haul ever for a Marvel film opening, coming in just behind 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” ($27.6 million).
Released by Walt Disney Co., “Black Panther” is expected to be a huge performer at the box office this weekend, driven by high anticipation for the first global blockbuster superhero picture with a mostly black cast and an African American director (Ryan Coogler of “Creed”).
“Black Panther” is poised to easily become the biggest February release ever, not adjusting for ticket price inflation. Through Monday, the movie is projected to gross roughly $185 million, according to early studio estimates. “Deadpool” set the current record for the month two years ago, tallying $152 million over the Presidents Day weekend.
The film is exceeding lofty expectations domestically. Before Thursday’s results were released, analysts predicted the movie would gross at least $150 million through the Monday holiday, though some had said it could collect as much as $180 million in its four-day opening.
Online movie ticket seller Fandango on Thursday said “Black Panther” was the fourth-biggest film, in terms of presales, in the site’s 18-year history, coming in behind only the three most recent “Star Wars” movies. It’s the highest preselling superhero movie ever, Los Angeles-based Fandango said.
The momentum has benefited from overwhelmingly positive reviews for the $200-million film, which stars Chadwick Boseman in the title role, plus major stars such as Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o and Daniel Kaluuya. Celebrities including Octavia Spencer have said they would host free screenings for communities of color.
In countries outside the U.S. and Canada, “Black Panther” has collected $47 million in its first three days of release.