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.”
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 the entire world waits for the Feb. 16 opening of Marvel’s “Black Panther,” the residents of one lucky Kenyan city – Kisumu – got an early premier.
“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.