BLACK PANTHER BREAKS RECORDS ON OPENING WEEKEND, AND COUNTINGFebruary 18, 2018
Black Panther has grossed a massive $75.8 million on Friday; overseas, it has already earned a mighty $81.5 million since opening midweek.
Black Panther is shattering records in its box-office debut. On Friday, it took in $75.8 million for a projected domestic debut of $205-$210 million over the four-day President’s Day weekend. Black Panther has already become the highest-grossing title in history at 33 AMC Theaters across the country, according to the mega exhibitor. The film will easily nab the top February opening of all time and could score the biggest debut ever for a superhero pic if it passes up fellow Marvel title The Avengers ($207.4 million). Directed by Ryan Coogler, the $200 million movie stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis.
Black Panther boasts a 97 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, the best of any title in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the rival DC Extended Universe. In terms of the A+ CinemaScore, The Avengers was the only other Marvel title to earn the perfect grade.
With Black Panther hitting theaters Friday, Build-A-Bear has launched a new teddy bear based on the titular superhero. In the film, the high-tech suit worn by T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) may be made out of impossibly strong Vibranium, but the Build-A-Bear version looks considerably softer and more huggable.
HEADLINES FOR BLACK PANTHER:
Serena Williams surprises students with private screening of Black Panther.
Black Panther’s Winston Duke Is the Star You Should Be Watching. The Yale-educated actor on playing the headstrong M’Baku, who’s set to become a major fan favorite once the superhero movie hits theaters.
Black Panther is a 2018 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the eighteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It is directed by Ryan Coogler, written by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, and stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther, alongside Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis. In Black Panther, T’Challa returns home as king of Wakanda but finds his sovereignty challenged by a long-time adversary, in a conflict with global consequences. Black Panther premiered in Los Angeles on January 29, 2018, and was released theatrically in the United States on February 16, 2018, in IMAX and 3D. It received praise for the direction, costume design, action sequences, soundtrack, and performances, with some calling it one of the best films set in the MCU and noting its cultural significance. It has grossed over $122 million worldwide.
Centuries ago, five African tribes war over a meteorite of the alien metal vibranium. A warrior ingests a “heart-shaped herb” affected by the metal and gains superhuman abilities. As the first “Black Panther”, he unites the tribes under the nation of Wakanda, though the Jabari Tribe choose not to follow. Over time, the Wakandans use the vibranium to develop advanced technology and isolate themselves from the rest of the world by posing as a Third World country.
In 1992, undercover in Oakland, California, Prince N’Jobu becomes convinced that Wakanda’s isolationist policies have done more harm than good. He vows to share its technology with people of African descent around the world to help them conquer their oppressors. N’Jobu enlists black market arms dealer Ulysses Klaue to infiltrate Wakanda and steal a cache of vibranium. His brother King T’Chaka learns of this from another undercover agent, Zuri, and confronts N’Jobu. When N’Jobu attacks Zuri, T’Chaka reluctantly kills him and orders Zuri to lie that N’Jobu disappeared. They leave behind his American son, Erik, to maintain the lie.
In 2016, following T’Chaka’s death at the hands of Helmut Zemo,[N 1] his son T’Challa returns to Wakanda to assume the throne. He and Okoye, the leader of the Dora Milaje fighting force, extract his ex-lover Nakia from an undercover assignment so she can attend his coronation ceremony along with his mother Ramonda and younger sister Shuri. At the ceremony, the Jabari Tribe’s leader M’Baku challenges T’Challa for the crown, but T’Challa defeats M’Baku in ritual combat, becoming the new king, and allows M’Baku to live.
When Klaue resurfaces to sell a stolen Wakandan artifact to a buyer in Busan, South Korea, T’Challa’s closest friend W’Kabi—who lost his parents as a result of Klaue’s actions—urges him to bring Klaue to justice. T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia go to the underground casino where the deal is taking place, to find that the buyer is CIA agent Everett K. Ross, who takes Klaue into custody against T’Challa’s will. Klaue tells Ross that Wakanda’s international image is just a front for a technologically advanced civilization, before being broken out by Erik, now an ex-U.S. black ops soldier who goes by the name “Killmonger”. Ross is seriously injured saving Nakia during the attack; rather than pursue Klaue, T’Challa takes Ross to Wakanda where their technology can save him. Shuri heals Ross with vibranium, while T’Challa confronts Zuri about N’Jobu.
Killmonger kills Klaue and takes his body to Wakanda as a token, revealing his identity to the tribal elders and challenging T’Challa for the throne. Killmonger kills Zuri and then, after triumphing in ritual combat, hurls the defeated T’Challa over a waterfall. After ingesting the heart-shaped herb to gain the powers of the Black Panther, Killmonger enacts his father’s plan and prepares shipments of Wakandan weapons to be distributed to operatives around the world, supported by W’Kabi and his tribesmen. Nakia, Shuri, Ramonda, and Ross flee to seek the aid of the Jabari.
At the home of the Jabari Tribe, the group find a comatose T’Challa, rescued by the Jabari in repayment for him sparing M’Baku’s life. Healed by a heart-shaped herb brought by Nakia, T’Challa returns to Wakanda to complete his combat with Killmonger, who is now wears his own Black Panther. Shuri and Nakia join the Dora Milaje and Jabari in battling W’Kabi and his army, while Ross pilots a jet to shoot down the planes carrying the weapon shipments. Within Wakanda’s vibranium mine, T’Challa uses sonic mining technology to disrupt Killmonger’s suit and fatally stab him. Killmonger declines an offer to be healed and imprisoned, choosing instead to die free.
Rejecting Wakanda’s former isolationism, T’Challa establishes an outreach center in Oakland to be run by Nakia and Shuri. T’Challa appears before the United Nations to reveal Wakanda’s true nature to the world. Shuri continues to help Bucky Barnes with his recuperation.
- Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther:
The king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, who gains enhanced strength by ingesting the Heart-Shaped Herb. After the events of Captain America: Civil War, and the death of his father T’Chaka, T’Challa is in mourning while ascending to the throne. The character appears more comfortable in this film compared to Civil War, now that he is back in his “natural environment”. Boseman, who called T’Challa an anti-hero, said that he is “very much aware of [his] responsibility” as the leader of Wakanda. Black Panther’s suit that forms around his body was inspired by a similar design seen in Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ Black Panther comic book run.Boseman worked with the same dialect coach he had during Message from the King, and worked with Marrese Crump to stay in shape between Civil War and Black Panther. He signed a five-film contract with Marvel.Ashton Tyler plays a young T’Challa.
- Michael B. Jordan as N’Jadaka / Erik “Killmonger” Stevens:
The son of N’Jobu, and a U.S. black-ops soldier who seeks to overthrow T’Challa. Executive producer Nate Moore said Killmonger “has his own opinion on how Wakanda has been run and should [be] run”. Jordan, who had “been wanting to play a villain for a while,” likened Killmonger and T’Challa’s relationship to the X-Men characters Magneto and Professor X. He added that Killmonger is “very strategic, thoughtful. He’s very patient. Very well skilled, trained to a T.” Killmonger’s bumpy, ritualistic tribal markings on his chest and torso resemble the scar tattoos of the Mursi and Surma tribes, and consisted of 90 individually sculpted silicone molds that took two-and-a-half hours to apply. His dreadlocks hairstyle was a modern take on the character’s long hair in the comics. Corey Calliet served as Jordan’s trainer on the film, after also doing so on Creed. Seth Carr plays a young Killmonger.
- Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia:
T’Challa’s former lover and a War Dog, an undercover spy for Wakanda placed in other countries to complete missions. She is from the River Tribe. Nyong’o called Nakia a “departure” from her comic counterpart.She begins the film fighting for enslaved women in Nigeria; Nyong’o learned to speak Hausa for certain scenes in the film. She also trained in judo, jujitsu, silat and Filipino martial arts.
- Danai Gurira as Okoye:
An “extremely proud” Wakandan and traditionalist from the Border Tribe, who is the head of the Dora Milaje, the all-female special forces of Wakanda, who serve as T’Challa’s bodyguards. When looking to cast Gurira, director Ryan Coogler had not seen The Walking Dead, in which Gurira portrays the popular character Michonne, and instead wanted her for the part because of her performance in Mother of George. Gurira said that the fighting skills she learned playing Michonne complemented the skills of Okoye, but that “there’s a lot of ways that they’re extremely different … Okoye is a whole ‘nother thing.” Gurira described the Dora Milaje as a secret service that is “also very much about intel. It’s not just military,” with Okoye the head of intel. Regarding Okoye’s stoic demeanor, Gurira said, “She can be serious, but she also has an unexpected sense of humor. She has a heart, but for her country and for her people.”
- Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross:
A member of the CIA and former liaison of its Joint Counter Terrorism Task Force. Freeman said that Ross “has an uneasy peace with T’Challa”, and that he “goes on a strange journey, an enlightening journey to Wakanda.” Unlike his comic book counterpart, who mainly served as comic relief, Freeman and the filmmakers sought to turn this version of Ross into a more capable agent in terms of diplomacy and combat.
- Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi: A confidant to T’Challa and his best friend, who is the head of security for the Border Tribe, serving as the first line of defense for Wakanda.
- Letitia Wright as Shuri:
T’Challa’s 16-year-old sister and the princess of Wakanda who designs new technology for the country. Wright described her as “an innovative spirit and an innovative mind” who “wants to take Wakanda to a new place… [and] has a great fashion sense”. Wright also felt Shuri was a good role model for young black girls. Moore called Shuri the smartest person in the world, even more so than Tony Stark.
- Winston Duke as M’Baku:
A powerful, ruthless warrior who is the leader of Wakanda’s mountain tribe, the Jabari, who are in protest to T’Challa being the new king. Duke described the Jabari as people who “strongly believe that to move forward, you have to have a strong adherence and respect for the past. So they have a deep moral conscience.” Character elements from Christopher Priest‘s 1998-2003 Black Panther series were adapted for M’Baku’s portrayal in the film. M’Baku is not referred to in the film by his comics alter ego “Man-Ape”, since Marvel felt there were “a lot of racial implications that don’t sit well” in having a black character dress up as an ape. This aspect of the character was instead reworked to have the Jabari tribe that M’Baku is the leader of worship the gorilla gods, with M’Baku still wearing elements of fur on his arms and legs and a chest-plate that hints at the gorilla. Moore continued, “Man-Ape is a problematic character for a lot of reasons, but the idea behind Man-Ape we thought was really fascinating … It’s a line I think we’re walking, and hopefully walking successfully.” To further differentiate the Jabari, Duke spoke a version of the Nigerian Igbo language rather than the Xhosa language spoken by other Wakandans.
- Angela Bassett as Ramonda:
T’Challa’s mother and Queen Mother of Wakanda. Boseman noted that Ramonda “is one of the advisors that [T’Challa] would look to… for some of the answers of what his father might want or might do. She may not be exactly right all the time, but she definitely has insights.” Bassett wore a silver, waist-length wig for the role that was made from 120 pieces of hair hand-rolled into dreadlocks. Calliet also served as Bassett’s trainer, working with her before she began filming, and while she was on set, by creating high-intensity interval training circuits and helping to craft her diet.
- Forest Whitaker as Zuri:
An elder statesman in Wakanda, and the keeper of the heart-shaped herb. Coogler called Zuri a religious and spiritual figure, and a way to reference the spirituality within Wakanda from the comics. He also added that Zuri “is a major tie back” to T’Chaka for T’Challa, and is “Black Panther’s version of Obi-Wan Kenobi.” Denzel Whitaker, who is not related to Forest, plays a young Zuri.
- Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue:
A South African black-market arms dealer, smuggler and gangster, who is allied with Killmonger. He uses a piece of advanced Wakandan mining equipment as a sonic disruptor arm-cannon. Boseman described Klaue as a threat to Wakanda, one of the few outsiders to enter the country, and someone with access to vibranium, comparing him to Osama bin Laden. Serkis added that in addition to his desire for vibranium, Klaue is motivated by a “personal” vendetta against T’Challa, and “to expose what he thinks is the hypocrisy of Wakanda.”