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What Does Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's Thursday Box Office Say About The Weekend?

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" has a lot of hype to live up to, as, according to Variety, its 2018 predecessor, "Black Panther," became only the third film in history to top $700 million at the domestic box office, the first two being "Avatar" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." So one of the questions on everyone's mind is, will the "Black Panther" sequel match or surpass the original?

Estimates ahead of Thursday previews had the movie opening to at least $175 million for its opening weekend, with hopes of the film possibly pulling off something in the range of $185-200 million. Those estimates would still put it behind the first movie's $202 million opening weekend over President's Day weekend in 2018. There's still the question of whether Marvel will top themselves, as the studio's "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is still sitting on the record for best opening weekend of 2022 so far with $187 million. Variety reports that only 14 films in history have topped $175 million for the opening weekend, and eight of those films are from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Well, the first numbers are in now from the Thursday previews and, while it's impossible to make an exact prediction, the stats look promising so far for "Wakanda Forever."

Wakanda Forever brought in $28 million on Thursday

According to Variety, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" pulled in $28 million in ticket sales on Thursday, which means it's the 15th highest-selling preview of all time. But what's even more encouraging is the fact that the movie is actually slightly ahead of the preview numbers for the first "Black Panther," which brought in $25 million. Despite having a slight advantage over where the first film was at this point in 2018, estimates remain the same that the film will finish its opening weekend with at least $175. There's still the possibility that the "Black Panther" sequel will surpass the first film, but regardless it still indicates a very strong opening weekend.

Mark Hughes, writing a review of the film for Forbes, predicted that the film would top $1 billion globally, much like the first "Black Panther." Hughes pointed out some of the factors that could come into play, such as the fact that COVID-19 is still a factor in theater attendance, which is now compounded by the potential risk of flu and RSV. But, considering how many films have already had monster openings in 2022, fear of illness seems to be becoming less of a factor. 

In addition to "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" bringing in $187 million in its opening weekend, "Jurassic World Dominion" had an opening weekend of $145 million, "Thor: Love and Thunder" (another MCU movie) brought in $144 million, "The Batman" did $134 million its opening weekend, and "Top Gun: Maverick" brought in $126 million. With numbers like that, it seems that the pandemic isn't likely to stand in the way of "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" generating some record-breaking numbers.