T’Challa still rules the box office four weeks in, even with the fresh rivalry of new Walt Disney Studios release A Wrinkle in Time.
Black Panther took the No. 1 spot at the North American box office with $41.1 million, according to studio estimates Sunday, leaving another newcomer in its wake. The Marvel and Disney phenomenon crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide this weekend and became the seventh-highest grossing domestic release with $562 million. Not accounting for inflation, it’s now passed Christopher Nolan’s Batman movie The Dark Knight.
With a marketplace still dominated by Black Panther, Disney faced some stiff competition from its own studio in launching Ava DuVernay’s adaption of the sci-fi book A Wrinkle in Time, which opened in second place with $33.3 million from 3,980 locations. The PG-rated film, which cost around $103 million to produce and stars Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling, received mixed reviews from critics (it has a “rotten” rating, with 42% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences, who gave it a B grade on CinemaScore.
In gauging A Wrinkle in Time’s long-term prospects, a somewhat similar comparison could be Tomorrowland, a PG-rated sci-fi pic with middling reviews and a B CinemaScore, which opened to $33 million in 2015 and went on to gross $93 million domestically. Tomorrowland, however, notably cost nearly twice as much to make as A Wrinkle in Time.
But the Black Panther effect is the X factor here.
“When you think about having two films at the top of the box office, it’s definitely a win all around,” says Disney’s worldwide theatrical distribution president Dave Hollis. “We’re feeling good about this start. … We’re feeling good about what, for us, is a little family competition between now and (the Easter holiday).”
Hollis says he doesn’t think the studio would have done anything different with the timing of Wrinkle’s release had it known the scope of Black Panther’s prospects.
“There’s always going to be competition in the marketplace,” he says. “With a tentpole strategy like ours, four weeks of separation is about what we can expect.”
Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling talk more than just life on the set of “A Wrinkle in Time.” USA TODAY
Still, Black Panther has devoured the marketplace for a month now, leaving all newcomers in the dust.
The new horror film The Strangers: Prey at Night, with Christina Hendricks, took third place with $10.5 million. The Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller Red Sparrow landed at fourth in its second weekend with $8.2 million and the comedy Game Night, about a game night that turns into a murder mystery, placed fifth with $7.9 million in Weekend 3.
Hardly any of the new releases, which also included the thriller The Hurricane Heist (which finished eighth with $3.2 million) and the dark action comedy Gringo (11th place, $2.6 million), which marked the film debut of Paris Jackson, were well-reviewed going into the weekend.
It also left room for the Oscars’ best-picture winner The Shape of Water to capitalize. The film added 720 theaters and took in $2.4 million from 1,552 locations, bringing its domestic total to $61 million.
But even though Black Panther has helped boost the year-to-date box office significantly, it’s also proving to be a continued challenge for any other wide release hoping for a piece of the market.
“Every movie that has opened in the wake of Black Panther has had its work cut out for it,” says comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “We keep underestimating this film and it just shows no sign of slowing down.”
Final numbers are expected Monday.