In news that will almost certainly surprise nobody, the long-awaited, highly anticipated Marvel movie Black Panther is currently tracking for a $150 million opening weekend – which indicates a significant uptick in pre-booked tickets since last week’s estimate, as well as an expectation of smashed records for its Presidents Day weekend debut. These figures are indeed impressive, but in order to fully appreciate them, a little context is needed.
Pre-release tracking was initially developed as a way for studios to analyze the impact of advertising strategies on potential moviegoers and involves various methods of gauging interest levels in a film prior to its release, as well as – nowadays – measuring pre-booked ticket sales. In recent years, the accuracy of estimates produced by tracking has been questioned – with blame for mistakes being placed on the widely used ‘tracking’ methodology’s perceived inability to correctly measure the influence of social media. However, given the high profile of this project, the extensive marketing campaign by Disney, and the fact that the Fandango ticket service saw it rise to the top of its daily sales rankings immediately after its premiere, it would seem likely that tracking estimates are relatively accurate for Black Panther.
For further context, the spinoff was tracking in the $100-$120 million range when estimates were first made on January 25th – which means there’s been an estimated gain of $30 million in seven days. With another 14 days before its first weekend in theatres – if that momentum continues to build – Black Panther could well topple Deadpool from atop his record-breaking $152 million Presidents Day weekend throne.
Tracking also shows that, once Black Panther finally arrives in cinemas, it will likely dominate the box office for February and beyond. Its closest competition – of films releasing in or around the same timeframe – shows no signs of catching up. The Warner Bros. comedy Game Night – starring Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams and Kyle Chandler – is currently tracking at a $15-$20 million opening weekend at the end of the month, while Paramount’s Annihilation – starring Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Gina Rodriguez – is tracking at $12-$15 million in the same weekend.
Black Panther – directed by Ryan Coogler, and starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita N’yongo, Danai Gurira, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett – is the first solo movie for the character, who debuted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: Civil War, and will claw its way into theaters on February 16th.