‘Black Panther’ claws into history with $200 million opening weekend

World Today

A cosplayer poses before watching the film “Black Panther” in 3D which featuring Oscar-winning Mexico born Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o during Movie Jabber’s Black Panther Cosplay Screening in Nairobi, Kenya, on February 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Yasuyoshi CHIBA

Marvel superhero film “Black Panther” grossed more than $200 million in its opening weekend. The film was the biggest February debut of all time, and more importantly, is the highest grossing for any black director in history. It is the first Marvel film featuring a black superhero.

CGTN’s May Lee has more.

Even before Black Panther was released, it had already become a cultural phenomenon. The $200 million blockbuster about a black superhero triggered incredible hype for months. Social media blew up over the weekend with enthusiastic comments, colorful photos and videos of fans in their finest Black Panther outfits.

Many in the black community are hailing the film as revolutionary. It’s defying assumptions about films with black casts and filmmakers having limited appeal…just as “Wonder Woman” did for female leads and directors. 

Nicole Thompson and Tayo Amos are graduate students at the USC film school and lead the school’s African American Cinema society. To them, “Black Panther” is a game changer. 

“People are excited to finally have an opportunity to celebrate their blackness, and to be present and to explore their culture up on the screen,” Nicole said.

Tayo added, “I feel like everyone, even if you don’t relate as African or African-American, but especially African and African-American people, can see themselves in at least one of these characters.”

Boys & Girls Club, Together With IMAX, Regal Entertainment Group, Walt Disney Pictures And Marvel Studios Present Advance Screening Of "Black Panther"

Boys & Girls Club Long Beach members received the celebrity treatment with concessions and more during an advance IMAX screening of ‘Black Panther’ on February 15, 2018 in Long Beach, California. (Jesse Grant/Getty Images for IMAX/AFP)

That may be the immediate impact of “Black Panther,” but Todd Boyd, a USC professor of Cinema and Media Studies, wonders about longer lasting effects.

“Is this something that’s going to be used as an example of all black cast films, with black directors, that can make money?” he asked. “Or are they going to say the amount of money it took to produce Black Panther and market it, is such a unique situation it doesn’t really apply to other issues?”

Another question: how will the film do globally?

Black Panther doesn’t open in China until March 9. Traditionally, African-American films haven’t done as well overseas, but “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman may help boost interest in China. Last year at the 13 annual Chinese American Film Festival, he was voted most popular U.S. actor.

“As African-American actors, we are told our popularity and our movies don’t travel overseas, so I cherish this award immensely,” he said in his acceptance speech.

The film has been heavily promoted in China, with a special trailer made to introduce audiences to the world of Black Panther. 

So will Chinese audiences bite? If Black Panther’s success so far is any indication, the odds look pretty good.

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