Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Is In A Tight Race With Multiverse Of Madness For 2022's Biggest Opening Weekend

In a show of support that would make King T'Challa proud, audiences are showing up in droves this weekend for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." According to Variety, the movie is on track to meet or beat the biggest opening of the year to date, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," and earned an impressive $84 million opening including Friday showings and Thursday previews.

Impressively, the movie even beat out its own predecessor's opening day; "Black Panther" was a phenomenon when it debuted in 2018, but reportedly raked in $3 million less than the highly anticipated sequel. Currently, outlets including Variety, Box Office Pro, and The Wrap have a wide range of projections for the film's final opening weekend numbers, from $175 million to $200 million. All of these are domestic numbers based on the film's massive 4,396 theater opening weekend, but "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" will surely hit big internationally as well. By Friday its global total was $149 million.

Audiences are ready to return to Wakanda

This strong weekend showing is proof that the fall box office isn't dead, but was merely sleeping. It's been a sluggish couple of months for American moviegoers, as the only other film that's come close to an opening this impressive was DC's "Black Adam" (currently still at #2 in the box office) with a $67 million first weekend on the domestic chart. That movie saw a steep drop in its subsequent weekends, but it'll be interesting to see if interest in Marvel's return to Wakanda — and emotional farewell to the late actor Chadwick Boseman — will sidestep a significant audience drop and keep viewers engaged in the coming weeks.

Ryan Coogler's film has been on track for a huge opening weekend since October, and audiences who have seen it seem to be responding to the film even as critics are slightly mixed. The movie currently holds an A CinemaScore rating, whereas its Rotten Tomatoes critics' score is slightly less unanimous, with 84% of included critics giving the film a positive review. /Film's Chris Evangelista praised the film despite calling it overstuffed, writing: "The emotional punch is more impactful than the physical one here, and whatever the flaws of 'Wakanda Forever,' its emotional heft is strong — and honest." Having seen it myself, I can say that it's a movie that benefits from a theatrical experience, not for its spectacle, but for the collective emotion it inspires.

The sequel sees Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, and Lupita Nyong'o reprising their roles from the first film, while franchise newcomer Tenoch Huerta Mejía plays the sea god Namor, and Dominique Thorne is introduced as MIT student Riri Williams, aka Ironheart.