Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther is expected to gross around $201.7 million in North America this weekend, out-earning 2016’s Deadpool to make it the biggest February debut of all time, according to Box Office Mojo. It’s also expected to have the fifth-highest-grossing opening weekend of all time, and the second largest Marvel debut, behind 2012’s The Avengers. Global opening weekend sales are expected to climb to around $387 million, The New York Times reports.
Directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, and others, Black Pantherfeatures a majority black cast and is the only Marvel movie so far to be helmed by a black director. It’s also the highest-grossing film in history by a black director, beating out F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton, which earned a total of $214 million worldwide in 2015, according to the Times.
Anticipation for Black Panther was high, and it broke records before it was even released. The first 24 hours of ticket presales where the highest of any Marvel movie, according to Fandango. At the end of 2017, Twitter reported that Black Panther was the ninth most-tweeted about movie of the year, and viewers hadn’t seen more than a trailer.
While fans have always seemed on board with the movie, it’s been received well by critics, too. The Verge’s Bryan Bishop wrote that Black Panther felt like a “turning point” for the MCU, “where the studio has finally recognized that its movies can be about more than just selling the next installment.”
Like Wonder Woman before it, Black Panther proves that audiences are eager for diverse representation in film, especially in superhero movies, which have only recently, and slowly, broadened the scope of who gets to be a hero.
Update, February 19th, 11:53AM ET: Updated to reflect that estimates for Black Panther’s opening weekend are now at $201.7 million domestically, up from $192 million.