Beyond ‘Black Panther’ Box Office: 5 Ways Its Success Changed the Movie Business

IndieWire | 3/2/2018 | Staff
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Barely into March, and “Black Panther” could be the biggest domestic release of 2018. It’s passed $430 million in its first two weeks, is approaching $800 million worldwide, and is on track to pass $600 million in North America, and more than $1 billion worldwide.

So many records in so little time. However, the film’s greatest impact doesn’t lie with its bragging rights. “The Black Panther” stands a real chance of reinventing the realities of studio filmmaking, of the release calendar, and the exhibition business of North America. Here’s how that’s happening, right now.


“Black Panther”

“Black Panther” reportedly cost $200 million, similar to most Marvel (and rival D.C. Comics) titles. It will be one of the five or so most-expensive films of the year, and the P&A will cost more than half again as much. In the past, that financial weight was evidence against producing big-budget “difficult” films (read: female-led, or not white). Historical evidence showed they had a ceiling to their grosses.

Level - Fear - Prophecy - Resources - Directors

At some level, this fear became self-fulfilling prophecy. Resources weren’t allocated to worthy directors and actors, so nothing could disprove the theory.

Now, “Black Panther” will be not only one of the top-grossing films of the year, it was also be one of the most profitable. “Get Out” was one of the biggest films of 2017, but Jordan Peele’s hit cost just $5 million. Similar successes like “Hidden Figures,” Tyler Perry’s string of hits, and “Straight Outta Compton” were much less risky investments. “Black Panther” is a game changer.


“Black Panther”

Roughly, studios believe any movie above mid-budget should gross more than 60 percent foreign, and less than 40 percent domestic. That was an argument against big movies featuring minorities and women: Not enough international interest.

Panther - Lesson - Wonder - Woman - Response

Now, “Black Panther” has repeated the lesson of “Wonder Woman,” proving that domestic response can make up for...
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