Early tracking numbers are estimating that Ryan Coogler‘s Black Panther is going to enjoy a Presidents’ Day Weekend opening box office between $100 million and $120 million. That sounds impressive, but I’m of the opinion that it’s an underestimation. Sure, this is early tracking based on facts, figures, and available data, but sometimes you have to go with your gut. Even at $120 million for an opening weekend, that would put Black Panther between Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok. With nothing but respect to those films, I think Black Panther will perform much better than that.
THR reports that pre-release surveys suggest a domestic debut north of $100 million, topping out at $120 million, as the first superhero tentpole of 2018. Their comparison to Doctor Strange‘s $85 million debut is a … strange one, especially considering that the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring picture was an origin story that didn’t have a character previously introduced and established in a prior MCU film. Black Panther has that advantage since Chadwick Boseman introduced the character exceptionally well in Captain America: Civil War, and anticipation for his solo outing has been building ever since.
Black Panther also has the added benefit of recognizable names both behind and in front of the cameras. Coogler’s name still carries the success of Creed, even if the general moviegoing public doesn’t also count the excellent Fruitvale Station to his credit. And even if Creed fans don’t know Coogler’s name, they probably know Michael B. Jordan; the Black Panther collaboration is the third for the duo, but the first to put Jordan on the antagonistic side of things. Then there are the Oscar-winners Lupita Nyong’o and Forest Whitaker, with the Oscar-nominated Angela Bassett and Golden Globes-nominated Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman also starring, not to mention the awards-worthy Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright.
Oh and behind the scenes are Oscar-nominated cinematographer and Coogler-collaborator Rachel Morrison, Oscar-nominated costume designer Ruth E. Carter, and Emmy-nominated production designer/Coogler-collaborator Hannah Beachler. I don’t expect general audience members to know their names, but their veteran experience and work ethic shows through in every single frame of the film; that quality permeates the rest of the movie. Expect those tracking numbers to go up, up, up as we get closer to the February 16th release date, especially once early reviews start to make their way online (as long as they’re positive, of course). How high can it go? The sky’s the limit, but we’re banking on something closer to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘s $146.5 million debut as a low estimate based on nothing but pure gut feeling and hope.