Black Panther Has Huge Debut

“Black Panther” Delivers Fifth-Biggest Debut Ever


February 16-18, 2018

(estimates from


Black Panther $192.0 million
Peter Rabbit $17.2 million
Fifty Shades Freed  $16.9 million
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle  $7.9 million
The 15:17 to Paris $7.6 million

Living up to they hype and then some, Black Panther beat all expectations and shattered several records on its path to the fifth-biggest opening of all time. The only four films ahead of it all cracked $200 million in their first three days: the last two Star Wars entries, as well as Jurassic World and The Avengers. That means that this deep into the MCU, only the enormous team-up movie did any better. Black Panther is also the biggest debut of all time for a black director, nearly doubling the $98.7 million The Fate of the Furious opened with last year. It also blows away the previous February record-holder: 2016's Deadpool, which also defied expectations with $132.4 million in three days. The film should pass $200 million on Monday's Presidents Day holiday, and should likely finish at or above $300 million by the end of next week. With no serious threats until March 9's A Wrinkle in Time, there's a good chance this ends up being the year's biggest movie. (Although my money is still on Avengers: Infinity War.)

With about $175 million less, Peter Rabbit held strong at No. 2. Like Black Panther, it's only competition in the coming weeks is A Wrinkle in Time, so it has time to finish between $65 and $75 million. Fifty Shades Freed fell to No. 3 and while it's by far the lowest-performing film of the franchise, it's still on its way to $100 million, making it one of the most successful franchises ever.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle still had an astonishingly small drop, slipping only 20 percent. At this rate, it still has an outside shot at $400 million and seems all but guaranteed to end its run as the fourth biggest movie of 2017, something absolutely no one could have predicted. The 15:17 to Paris plunged to fifth, and will likely end up right in the middle of the pack of Clint Eastwood's directorial efforts.

Outside the top 5:

  • This Weekend's Indie Champ: The Party, the British comedy of manners. The black-and-white film averaged $12,111 on each of its three screens.
  • Neither the stop-motion animated Early Man nor the biblical epic Samson managed to make much of an impact. The former made a microscopic $3.1 million while the latter did bad even by Christian movie standards, with only $1.9 million.
  • It took a longer time to get there, but despite a small opening, mediocre reviews and only one Oscar nomination, The Greatest Showman is now the fourth-biggest musical ever. The P.T. Barnum biopic won't pass Chicago ($170 million), but it's truly an amazing feat.

Next week:

Black Panther isn't going anywhere. Though it will almost certainly drop between 45 and 50 percent, it's going to be No. 1 again with at least $80 million. Its competition is the dark sci-fi Annihilation, which I am sad to predict is going to flop, given that its premise is nearly impossible to explain in a trailer or 30-second ad. (It's a real shame given the talent involved and its stellar source material, so I hope I'm wrong.) Thus, I think that the R-rated comedy Game Night will be the No. 2 with around $20 million.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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