This isn’t the $202 million opening that we saw from Black Panther in February 2018, nor should we expect the amazing legs that were able to get that film to an astonishing $700 million. With that said, expect it to perform strong throughout the holiday season, likely repeating the five-weekend number-one streak that the first film had, and it shouldn’t have any trouble becoming the second highest grossing film of the year so far, beating the $411 million cume of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The audience response is strong, with the A CinemaScore falling below the first film’s A+ but bouncing back from the B+’s earned by Doctor Strange 2 and Thor: Love and Thunder, which ranked among the worst for the MCU. The reviews are also an improvement over the recent franchise installments, with the aforementioned films coming in at 74% and 64% respectively on Rotten Tomatoes, both at the lower end for Marvel films, while Wakanda Forever’s 84% is closer to franchise norms, though not meeting the high bar set by the first Black Panther’s 96%.
The sequel opened to $150 million internationally, which Disney reports is 4% ahead of the first film when comparing like for likes at current exchange rates. Overall, the global cume comes to $330 million. Can it become the year’s third film to make it past $1 billion worldwide despite China and Russia, which made up around $124 million of the first film’s $682 million international box office, being out of play? It may be tough, but it’s not impossible. Legging out past $500 million is plausible on the domestic front (that would be a multiplier of at least 2.7), and another $500 million abroad would be a drop of around $58 million from the original after excluding the two MIA markets. It’d be another story if audiences didn’t love the film, but the positive reception suggests that Wakanda Forever will outperform the legs on this year’s earlier MCU titles (Multiverse of Madness and Love and Thunder had multipliers of 2.2 and 2.3 respectively).
As for the rest of the box office, there’s little to get excited about, with nothing else grossing above $10 million as Hollywood shied away from releasing anything significant not just this weekend but also over the previous two weekends. When Black Panther opened in 2018, there was no counterprogramming that opened the same weekend, but Peter Rabbit and Fifty Shades Freed were in their second weekends and took second and third with $17.5 million and $17.3 million respectively. That weekend had an overall cume of $287 million compared to $208 million this weekend. Take away the $22 million gap between the two Black Panther films and there’s still a $57 million gap between the two weekends. The difference may not feel that large when a mega blockbuster is propping up the grosses, but the contrast is harsher when the mid-level films are the entire box office as we saw in recent months.
Black Adam, which is the biggest grosser of the rough post-summer, pre-Wakanda Forever season, came in second with just $8.6 million. Despite the blockbuster competition that arrived in its fourth weekend, the numbers didn’t totally collapse, dropping 53% for a cume of $151 million. Worldwide it is at $352 million, which isn’t a great cume as the grosses start to wind down considering its $200 million budget. Still, it’s the biggest of any film since Thor: Love and Thunder, though Wakanda Forever will overtake it any day now.
Ticket to Paradise came in third place in its fourth weekend, down 29% with $6.1 million, emerging as one of the season’s most durable grossers and one of the year’s few bright spots when it comes to films for adults. The domestic cume is $56.5 million, bringing the worldwide total on the $60 million budgeted rom-com to $150 million.
Fourth place went to Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, which had a negligible drop of 5% for a $3.2 million sixth weekend and $40.8 million cume. The film is holding well enough (great, in fact), which isn’t surprising considering it’s the only family film on the market, and it’s close to grossing four times its $11.4 million opening. Still, the $72.6 million worldwide cume is soft given the $50 million budget, though a number of international markets have yet to open. .
Finishing up the top five is Smile, which had its biggest weekend drop yet, falling 42% for a $2.3 million seventh weekend. Of course, that’s no reason to frown for the horror film, which has a domestic cume of $103 million and global cume of $210 million from a budget of just $20 million.
The one new specialty title of note comes from a filmmaker we don’t typically associate with the specialty box office: Steven Spielberg. The Beard’s semi-autobiographical family drama The Fabelmans opened in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles to $160k, a $40k average. The film expands to 600 theaters the day before Thanksgiving, and it has the potential to break out in a way that none of the other of the season’s awards contenders have. We’re also seeing very solid numbers from The Banshees of Inisherin, which grossed $1.7 million this weekend for a seventh place finish, bringing its cume to $5.8 million.