“Black Panther” debuted this past weekend and in its wake left multiple box-office records smashed to pieces. It had the fifth-largest opening weekend of all time with over $202 million made domestically over the three day weekend. However, it had the 2nd-largest four day opening in history with $242 million and stands behind “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” who holds the title with a lofty $288 million.
There are plenty more box office records that this movie has just utterly destroyed (Forbes has a great article discussing a lot of them here) but even though this film had the biggest global opening for a predominantly black cast and the biggest domestic opening for a black director (or any film not directed by a white guy), we would be remiss to just boil down the historic debut of “Black Panther” to just numbers.
Cruise around your favorite social media platform and it won’t be long before you bump into multiple Black Panther hashtags such as the official Marvel tag #WakandaForever or the two generated from the team at Black Girl Nerds, #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe and #WakandaCameToSlay. Scroll through the feeds and you’ll see fans celebrating the release of the film with cosplay, memes, fan art, Afrocentric fashion, skits, and choreographed dance routines. Director Ryan Coogler definitely noticed the response and despite him not having any social media accounts, released the following letter on the Black Panther Twitter account:
— Black Panther (@theblackpanther) February 21, 2018
“I am struggling to find the words to express my gratitude at this moment, but I will try.
Filmmaking is a team sport. And our team was made up amazing people from all over the world who believed in this story. Deep down we all hoped that people would come see a film about a fictional country on the continent of Africa, made up of a cast of African descent.
Never in a million years did we imagine that you all would come out this strong. It still humbles me to think that people care enough to spend their money and time watching our film — but to see people of all backgrounds wearing clothing that celebrates their heritage, taking pictures next to our posters with their friends and family, and sometimes dancing in the lobbies of theaters — often moved me and my wife to tears.
For the people who bought out theaters, who posted on social about how lit the film would be, bragged about our awesome cast, picked out outfits to wear, and who stood in line in theaters all over the world — all before even seeing the film…
To the press who wrote about the film for folks who hadn’t seen it yet, and encouraged audiences to come out…
And to the young ones, who came out with their parents, with their mentors, and with their friends…
Thank you for giving our team of filmmakers the greatest gift: The opportunity to share this film, that we poured our hearts and souls into, with you.
P.S. Wakanda Forever”
“Black Panther” is only Ryan Coogler’s third feature film. His feature debut was in 2013 with “Fruitvale Station” and was followed up by “Creed” in 2015. “Black Panther” is playing in theaters now.