Speed Reads

a shuri-fire hit

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever sets new opening weekend record for a November release


Marvel's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever grossed an estimated $180 million domestically in its opening weekend. That's a bit below the $202 million opening of the 2018 original, but it's still the second biggest domestic debut of 2022 behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with $187 million. This is also the biggest domestic opening ever for a movie released in November, a record previously held by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with $158 million, and the 13th biggest of all time. 

It's a major success for a movie that faced a significant uphill battle on its way to theaters, as Chadwick Boseman, who starred as Black Panther in the acclaimed original film, died in August 2020 from cancer. Rather than recasting his role, Marvel decided to write out the character, with Wakanda Forever explaining that T'Challa has died of an undisclosed illness. Other challenges the movie faced included star Letitia Wright being seriously injured during filming, forcing production to pause.

But after all this turmoil, Wakanda Forever received mostly positive reviews from critics, who praised it for its handling of Boseman's death and for its exploration of grief. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an A grade, below the A+ the original received, but above the B+ given to Marvel's two other 2022 blockbusters, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder

Wakanda Forever's success came at a time when theaters really needed a big hit, as no film had opened above $100 million in the U.S. since July, and only one, DC's Black Adam, had even opened above $60 million. Wakanda Forever also has little blockbuster competition until Avatar: The Way of Water in December, giving it room to continue raking in cash in the coming weeks and become one of the year's highest-grossing films — until it passes the blockbuster torch onto that other Disney movie featuring underwater blue people.