Like I’ve been saying, every day they update the Black Panther numbers, and every day they keep going up. The Black Panther 4 day long weekend box office is now sitting at $242 million, behind only Star Wars: The Force Awakens as the biggest opening ever. Even more than The Last Jedi. It actually beat The Force Awakens on Monday, making it the biggest Monday box office of all time. And remember, the Star Wars movies come out in December, for the holiday box office. That’s a major advantage. Black Panther is not a holiday season movie. It’s not a summer blockbuster. It’s a FEBRUARY movie! And it still broke all kinds of records, too many records to count at this point. Which makes Ryan Coogler a very, very big deal in Hollywood now. A black director, just 31 years old, is the director king.
And he’s released a statement to express his gratitude on behalf of the Black Panther team. What I like about this statement is that early on, Ryan writes (and reminds) that this is a movie about an African country, with African characters, and SO MANY people went to see it.
It’s worth talking though about WHO went to see it. According to The Hollywood Reporter:
37 percent of ticket buyers were African-American. Caucasians made up the next largest group (35 percent), followed by Hispanics (18 percent). That sort of demographic breakdown is unheard of for a marquee superhero tentpole. On average, African-Americans make up about 15 percent of the audience for such fare. Females also turned out in force to see Black Panther, heralded for its portrayal of strong women, making up 45 percent of all ticket buyers (that share is usually 35 percent to 40 percent on a superhero movie's opening weekend).
The women. Women came out huge for Black Panther. Almost half the audience was women! Remember then they kept rationalising that diversity doesn’t sell tickets?
Women came to see Okoye and Queen Rashonda and Nakia and… of course… Shuri. SHURI! Letitia Wright’s Shuri is now considered by some to be Marvel’s “most promising character in ages”. We’ve already talked about how she’s the breakout star of the MCU. This is a black teenage girl who’s even smarter than Tony Stark and maybe even snarkier than Tony Stark. And, as Walt Hickey at FiveThirtyEight notes, Shuri “could change the world” because there is a mountain of evidence that shows that when young people go to the movies and can relate to an aspirational character, it can have a profound impact on their goals. FiveThirtyEight cites examples: after The Hunger Games, more girls got into archery; after Jurassic Park, more kids got into paleontology; Star Trek created actual astrophysicists. Shuri is an innovator, an inventor, a scientist. And this weekend, young black girls watched her kick ass with her mind (and her mouth!). There are, currently, very few black women in STEM fields. But let’s check back on that in 10 years. And if those numbers go up, Princess Shuri of Wakanda could be the inspiration.
Yours in gossip,