Marvel’s ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ lorded over the box office this weekend, earning $180 million in North America and providing a much-needed lift to beleaguered cinemas, reports Variety’.
The sequel demolished the record for a November opening, soaring past the previous high-water mark of $158 million set by 2013’s ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Globally, the superhero adventure netted a monstrously good $330 million, with $150 million of that figure coming from 55 overseas markets, ‘Variety’ adds.
With an opening weekend as rock-solid as this one, ‘Wakanda Forever’ is not very far from the 10th position in the Hollywood Top 10 grosses list for 2022. The present occupant of that position is the Tom Holland-Mark Wahlberg-starrer ‘Uncharted’ at $401.7 million on a list that is topped by ‘Top Gun: Maverick ($1.486 billion).
The world will be watching closely to see how high ‘Wakanda Forever’ rises on the list, especially because, to quote ‘Variety’, the film’s success has a bittersweet undercurrent.
The filmmakers faced a shocking off-screen tragedy before production even commenced when Chadwick Boseman, the actor who had given 2018’s ‘Black Panther’ so much of its soul, died in 2020 from cancer. He was only 43 years old.
In response, Ryan Coogler, the film’s director and co-writer, re-fashioned ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ into a tribute to the late actor. In the movie, the kingdom of Wakanda is grappling with the death of King T’Challa — an art-imitates-life situation that gave the film greater emotional resonance.
Critics praised Coogler’s deft handling of the difficult material, with Owen Gleiberman of ‘Variety’ writing that ‘Wakanda Forever “has slow-burn emotional suspense. Once the film starts to gather steam, it doesn’t let up.”
There were other hurdles facing ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The $250-million production was shot in the midst of Covid and also had to contend with an injury to one of its stars, Letitia Wright, that required filming to be suspended. That’s to say nothing of the dramatically altered theatrical landscape that it now must navigate.
When ‘Black Panther hit screens four years ago, China and Russia were still major film markets. But geo-political tensions have made China more inaccessible to Hollywood fare and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means that studio films no longer screen in the country. So, ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ will be a global powerhouse, but, as ‘Variety’ points out, it probably won’t hit the $1.4-billion mark that its predecessor achieved (few, if any, films can, these days).