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“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” had the major challenge of following “Black Panther,” one of the biggest blockbusters ever, and had to do so without star Chadwick Boseman, who passed away in 2020.
Despite all of the challenges, “Wakanda Forever” notched a sizable box office opening this weekend. The Marvel movie opened to an estimated $180 million in North America, according to the film’s studio, Disney.
The opening represents one of the best premieres of the year and makes the superhero film the highest-grossing debut ever for the month of November. The original record belonged to “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” which made $158 million in November 2013. The box office haul comes in around where most in Hollywood were predicting.
The film, which stars [Guyanese] Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett as the princess and queen of the African country of Wakanda, comes from Marvel Studios — the most lucrative brand in all of Hollywood — and is the sequel to one of the most popular films of all time.
When “Black Panther” hit theaters in February 2018, it opened to a stellar $202 million weekend. It then went on to make $1.3 billion worldwide and garnered multiple Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. The film is considered to be one of the best from the comic book genre and one of the best from Marvel.
Audiences also likely bought a ticket to “Wakanda Forever” to see how the film and director Ryan Coogler would handle the passing of Boseman. In an interview with Empire magazine in September, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige said “It just felt like it was much too soon” to recast the late actor. Boseman died at age 43 from colon cancer.
As for its critical reception, “Wakanda Forever” notched an 84% score on review site Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences also gave the film an “A” on CinemaScore.
“‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ faced an inordinate degree of difficulty, addressing the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman,” Brian Lowry, CNN’s media critic, wrote in his review. “That the movie manages to strike that somber chord and still deliver as Marvel-style entertainment represents a major accomplishment.”
For theaters, the industry needed a blockbuster to help boost numbers since new, notable films have been hard to find in recent months.
As for Disney, the media giant’s shares sank 13% Wednesday after the company reported its streaming business lost $1.4 billion last quarter, despite growing its subscriber base.
The debut of “Wakanda Forever” will unlikely impact Disney’s stock since investors remain heavily focused on the company’s streaming endeavors. But the strong box office performance helps Disney end a bad week on a high note.
It could also help build momentum for theaters with another potential Disney blockbuster on the horizon next month: “Avatar: The Way of Water.” (CNN Business)