Huge Thursday night numbers and a big Friday point to “Black Panther” setting an all-time (4-day) box office record, when all is said and done and the cash is counted Sunday night.
Marvel’s long-anticipated African-flavored superhero adaptation, ladled with healthy doses of righteousness, anti-colonialist rhetoric and the usual loads and loads of digitally-augmented action, is on pace to earn $214-220 million dollars its opening weekend.
That challenges “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” which earned more over the three-days of a proper weekend, but slightly less when adding in Thursday.
“Panther” has changed the nature of February film openings, added a tentpole to Disney’s bottom line and generally sucked all the oxygen out of the multiplexes for this weekend, and probably well into March.
The weekend’s big disappointment has to be Aardman’s “Early Man,” which lacked that hype, is a kid-appropriate delight and yet isn’t managing a fraction of the inferior but similarly British “Peter Pan’s” haul. A sub-$5 million weekend for an animated film is a disaster. Period. It deserved better, but after “Paddington 2” and “Peter,” the audience has to be suffering from twee Brit cartoon fatigue.
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” has steadily closed in on $400 million, overall, but may fall short with “Panther” taking screens and audience share.
Eastwood’s critically-panned “The 15:17 to Paris” is reaching its slower-to-show-up older audience, another $10 million or so making for a solid holdover. “Fifty Shades Freed” is on page to clear $100 million by the end of next weekend.
“The Post” is the only Oscar contender still in the top ten. And “The Greatest Showman” is showing up them all, closing in on $175, which is where I figure it’ll tap out. But you never know with this one.
The Biblical dud “Samson” from Pure Flix cracked the top ten, is on a lot of screens but only appears to be on track to earn $2-2.5 million this weekend. The trailers playing in front of it suggest there will be plenty other and hopefully better faith-base films opening between now and Easter.