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'Black Panther' hits $1 billion worldwide

In a marketplace dominated by "Black Panther," Disney faced stiff competition from its own studio in launching Ava DuVernay's adaptation of "A Wrinkle in Time."
Image: Stars of Marvel Studios' Black Panther Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and W'Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) with some of his border tribesman.
'Black Panther' stars Michael B. Jordan and Daniel Kaluuya.Film Frame / Marvel Studios
/ Source: The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — T'Challa still rules the box office four weeks in, even with the fresh rivalry of another Walt Disney Studios release in "A Wrinkle in Time."

"Black Panther" took the No. 1 spot at the North American box office, with $41.1 million, according to studio estimates Sunday, leaving another newcomer in its wake. The Marvel and Disney phenomenon crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide over the weekend and became the seventh-highest grossing domestic release, with $562 million. Not accounting for inflation, it has now passed "The Dark Knight."

With a marketplace still dominated by "Black Panther," Disney faced some stiff competition from its own studio in launching Ava DuVernay's adaptation of "A Wrinkle in Time," which opened in second place, with $33.3 million from 3,980 locations.

The PG-rated film, which cost about $103 million to produce and stars Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, got mixed reviews from critics (it's currently at a "rotten" 44 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences who gave it a B CinemaScore.

In gauging the long-term prospects of "A Wrinkle in Time," a somewhat similar comparison could be Disney's "Tomorrowland," a PG-rated sci-fi pic with middling reviews and a B CinemaScore, which opened to $33 million in early summer 2015 and went on to gross $93 million domestically. "Tomorrowland," however, notably cost nearly twice as much to make as "A Wrinkle in Time."

But the "Black Panther" effect is the X factor here. For Disney, it's a win all around "when you think about having two films at the top of the box office," said Dave Hollis, Disney's president of worldwide theatrical distribution. "We're feeling good about this start. ... We're feeling good about what, for us, is a little family competition between now" and the Easter holiday.

Hollis said he doesn't think the studio would have done anything differently regarding "Wrinkle's" release had it known the scope and longevity of "Black Panther's" prospects.

"There's always going to be competition in the marketplace," he says. "With a tentpole strategy like ours, four weeks of separation is about what we can expect."

The new horror film "The Strangers: Prey At Night," with Christina Hendricks, took third place, with $10.5 million. The Jennifer Lawrence thriller "Red Sparrow" landed in fourth in its second weekend, with $8.2 million, and the comedy "Game Night" placed fifth, with $7.9 million in weekend three.

Even though "Black Panther" has helped boost the year-to-date box office significantly, it's also proving to be a continued challenge for any other wide release hoping for a piece of the market.

"Every movie that has opened in the wake of 'Black Panther' has had its work cut out for it," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. "We keep underestimating this film, and it just shows no sign of slowing down."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

  1. "Black Panther," $41.1 million ($100 million international)
  2. "A Wrinkle in Time," $33.3 million ($6.3 million international)
  3. "The Strangers: Prey At Night," $10.5 million ($140,000 international)
  4. "Red Sparrow," $8.2 million ($15.7 million international)
  5. "Game Night," $7.9 million ($5.4 million international)
  6. "Peter Rabbit," $6.8 million ($4.8 million international)
  7. "Death Wish," $6.6 million ($3 million international)
  8. "The Hurricane Heist," $3.2 million ($1.9 million international)
  9. "Annihilation," $3.2 million.
  10. "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," $2.8 million.