‘Black Panther: ‘Wakanda Forever’ aims to recreate blockbuster magic. Disney and theaters are counting on it

‘Black Panther: ‘Wakanda Forever’ aims to recreate blockbuster magic. Disney and theaters are counting on it

New York
CNN Business

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” hits the theaters this weekend, and with it the kind of anticipation and box office expectations I haven’t seen Hollywood for a few months.

The Marvel film doesn’t just have to follow 2018black leopard“One of the biggest blockbusters of all time, but doing it without a star has challenges Chadwick Bosemanwho died in 2020 If that’s not enough, it comes to theaters and Disney, really needs a hit to release the movie.

If early estimates and ticket sales are any indication, it appears “Wakanda forever“That would be right.

The film, which stars Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett as the grieving princess and queen of the vibranium-powered African nation of Wakanda, is likely to make a record-breaking debut of around $180 million this weekend, and possibly $200 million.

Disney, more conservatively, is projecting around $175 million, which would still be one of the biggest openings of the year.

If “Wakanda Forever” clears $158 million this weekend, which it likely will, it will become November’s biggest opening. And if it makes $200 million, it will be one of the highest-grossing debuts of all time.

The film got off to a strong start, earning $28 million on Thursday night This is good news for a theater industry in need of a blockbuster.

When “Black Panther” hit theaters in February 2018, it quickly became A cultural phenomenon. The Marvel superhero flick grossed $202 million over the weekend before earning $1.3 billion worldwide and earning multiple Oscar nominations, including best picture.

ComScore’s senior media analyst, Paul Dargarbedian, said, “This franchise has the potential to draw huge crowds.”

, told CNN Business. “Every blockbuster counts now more than ever for movie theaters.”

Why does it matter how “Wakanda Forever” does this weekend? Because after a strong showing this summer, the domestic box office has hit a wall due to a lack of new, notable films.

There have been a few surprise hits in recent weeks — Paramount’s “smile“of the public”ticket to heaven“And Sonny’s”Woman is king” — but overall the North American box office is down 34% from pre-pandemic 2019. That’s a lot of ground to make up and not much time left to do it.

There are myriad reasons why ticket sales are tracking back to pre-pandemic levels, but one big reason is that mass-distributed movie releases are 38% lower than the same period in 2019.

“It’s welcome news for theater owners to come out of this slow period with a huge blockbuster like ‘Wakanda,’ especially since there won’t be any more apparent gaps in the release calendar for the foreseeable future,” said Sean Robbins, chief box office analyst. com, told CNN Business.

Theaters need “Wakanda Forever” right now for the same reason they needed “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and “batman” earlier this year. It’s unlikely that the box office makes up for the shortfall from 2019, but if “Wakanda Forever” blows up the ticket booths this weekend, it could close the gap and lead to strong momentum heading into 2023.

Movies like “Wakanda Forever” not only help bring in ticket sales, they attract audiences who may have forgotten what it was like to go to the movies. This benefits not only Marvel’s bottom line, but the entire ecosystem of the film industry, including theaters.

And then there’s Disney


The media giant had a bad 2022. Its stock is down 42% so far this year, and this week has been particularly bad.

The company’s shares sank 13% on Wednesday after the company Its streaming business reported a $1.4 billion loss last quarterHowever, its customer numbers exceeded expectations.

The performance of “Wakanda Forever” likely won’t move the needle on Disney’s stock, given that investors will be very focused on the company’s streaming efforts. But a strong showing from the film could help change the conversation.

A big opening weekend could serve as a bridge to another potential blockbuster for Disney next month: “Avatar: The Way of Water” James Cameron’s much awaited sequel Highest grossing film of all time opens Dec. 16, and could be a lucrative sequel to a beloved film like “Wakanda Forever.”

“Momentum is everything in this business,” Dergarabedian said. “Movie theaters are waiting for a movie like ‘Wakanda Forever’ that reminds people of the wonder and majesty of a great movie on the big screen.”

According to Dargarbedian, it could “light a spark” that could propel a “chain of films through the end of the year and into 2023.”

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