Long Range Forecast: Is Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ Poised to Become 2018’s First Blockbuster?

This week’s Long Range Forecast welcomes the latest chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as other notable updates for mid-February releases.

Black Panther
Disney / Marvel Studios


  • Marvel Studios’ unprecedented winning streak at the box office is the first obvious advantage that comes to mind as mastermind Kevin Feige and the teams under Disney’s banner have shepherded all 17 previous films in the saga to #1 openings and massive box office earnings.
  • The character’s introduction in Captain America: Civil War was warmly received by fans, giving those unfamiliar with the character’s history in the comics some familiarity going into his first standalone film.
  • Writer/Director Ryan Coogler has garnered critical and audience acclaim for his work on Creed and Fruitvale Station, offering further encouragement and interest in how he’ll handle his first big-budget film.
  • As the first tentpole comic book adaptation from Marvel or any other major studio to star an African-American lead (excluding 2008’s Hancock) — not to mention a predominately African-American cast — this film has already become a milestone. If strong reviews and word of mouth follow, it could hit the cultural zeitgeist in a similar way as Wonder Woman did last summer.
  • Opening over Presidents Day weekend will afford the opportunity for families to boost attendance on Sunday. If everything fires on all cylinders, a $100 million+ opening weekend wouldn’t be out of the question.
  • Trailer reactions have been very strong from fans and casual viewers alike, while early social media tracking positions Black Panther well ahead of the Twitter and Facebook activity levels Doctor Strange was generating at the same point before release. Given the latter film’s huge success — and that it was Marvel’s most recent origin story with a character never before seen on screen — we’re expecting a similar run for Panther even on the conservative end of possibilities if the final product wows audiences.
  • This is essentially the only tentpole release on the 2018 calendar until March. Competition will be minimal for the majority of its run.
  • Following a year filled to the brim with critically and commercially successful superhero films in 2017, audiences are clearly still hungry for the genre when the right film comes along.


  • Social media buzz hasn’t reached the levels of Wonder Woman yet, although that’s hardly anything to be concerned about as DC and Marvel films often diverge in pre-release tracking trends.
  • It would be unreasonable to expect *every* Marvel film to shatter box office expectations, particularly one with very little established on-screen history for the character in question. While the studio’s Ant-Man ($180 million domestic) could be a fair barometer for low-end box office expectations, we think buzz around Panther is strong enough to warrant more bullish forecasts at this time.

This Week’s Other Notes:

  • Social media tracking for 12 Strong has picked up in recent weeks, approaching the levels of 2016’s 13 Hours.
  • The 15:17 to Paris have been added below following last week’s trailer release.
  • Also opening on February 16 against Black Panther are Early Man and Samson, although both currently have modest expectations behind themInitial forecasts are below.

The 8-Week Forecast:

Release Date Title 3-Day Wide Opening % Chg from Last Week Domestic Total % Chg from Last Week Location Count Distributor
12/29/2017 (no films scheduled currently)
1/5/2018 Insidious: The Last Key $19,500,000 $34,500,000 3,000 Universal
1/5/2018 Molly’s Game $8,000,000 $28,000,000 1,500 STXfilms
1/12/2018 The Commuter $12,000,000 $31,000,000 Lionsgate
1/12/2018 Condorito: La Pelicula $5,000,000 $12,500,000 Lionsgate
1/12/2018 Paddington 2 $19,000,000 $70,000,000 Warner Bros.
1/12/2018 The Post (expansion) $20,000,000 $90,000,000 Fox
1/12/2018 Proud Mary $17,000,000 $55,000,000 Sony / Screen Gems
1/19/2018 12 Strong $13,000,000 30% $42,000,000 17% Warner Bros.
1/19/2018 Den of Thieves $6,500,000 $13,000,000 STXfilms
1/19/2018 Forever My Girl n/a n/a Roadside Attractions
1/26/2018 Maze Runner: The Death Cure $24,000,000 $65,000,000 Fox
2/2/2018 2018 Cloverfield Movie n/a n/a Paramount
2/2/2018 Winchester: The House that Ghosts Built $10,000,000 $28,000,000 Lionsgate / CBS Films
2/9/2018 The 15:17 to Paris $16,000,000 NEW $50,000,000 NEW Warner Bros.
2/9/2018 Fifty Shades Freed $40,000,000 $100,000,000 Universal
2/9/2018 The Hurricane Heist n/a n/a Entertainment Studios
2/9/2018 Peter Rabbit $25,000,000 $103,000,000 Sony / Columbia
2/16/2018 Black Panther $90,000,000 NEW $275,000,000 NEW Disney
2/16/2018 Early Man $4,000,000 NEW $20,000,000 NEW Lionsgate / Summit
2/16/2018 Samson $3,500,000 NEW $13,000,000 NEW Pure Flix
Shawn Robbins


  1. Avatar
    DangerS December 22, 2017

    I think BP will get to $100M on opening weekend and $300M total domestic.

  2. Avatar
    Anna December 22, 2017

    Not sure how well it will do yet. I would expect more social media activity because Marvel has been pouring more money into marketing for. He’s been seen on screen before, so that will help the box office.

    • Avatar
      Fred December 29, 2017

      I think Black Panther will obviously do well, but exactly how well none of us knows yet. It’s a guessing game just how well it will do, but the better the film is the better it’s likely to perform at the box office. I’m thinking $250-$275M domestic is probably on the lower end of what it ends up grossing. But if it dots all the i’s meaning great reviews, strong buzz and heavy audience investment, I could see this film reaching $300-million plus domestic easily.

  3. Avatar
    Orlando December 22, 2017

    I think a 90 million opening weekend and 275 million final gross is a very reasonable prediction this far ahead of Black Panther’s release. That being said, if the film has great reviews and the buzz continues to grow stronger I can realistically see the film going well past both of those numbers. If that does happen I can see Black Panther easily opening over 100 million it’s opening weekend and blowing past 300 million domestic. And if it has a big cultural impact like Wonder Woman did and feeds of a black history month, reaching 400 million domestic may not be out the question. Plus Black Panther has a strong predominant feature in the first “Avengers: Infinity War” trailer as well which only helps raise audiences awareness of the character. I think Black Panther is destined to be a monster at the box office and will likely battle “Deadpool 2” for the second highest grossing CBM of 2018 behind “Infinity War”.

  4. Avatar
    John December 23, 2017

    Isn’t The Hurricane Heist March 9th, not February 9th?

  5. Avatar
    Maxx December 27, 2017

    $100M opening for Black Panther and will easily do more than $300M. Could go much higher and be one of the leggiest MCU films to date. This will be the MCU’s Wonder Woman/Deadpool. Just watch!

    • Avatar
      Jor January 09, 2018

      Wonder Woman and Deadpool’s grosses are significantly less than almost all of the recent MCU films so I hope that it does better than at least Deadpool.

      • Avatar
        Tony January 12, 2018

        Overall gross yes, but not stateside. The domestic total for Wonder Woman trumped all but the 2 Avengers films. Deadpool finished behind Iron Man 3, Civil War & GOTG2 as well. What he is getting at is that Black Panther might not have a strong opening with somewhere around the $100M mark, but will stay strong and play like Deadpool and Wonder Woman. Both films faired better than Homecoming and Ragnarok.

  6. Avatar
    Sheldon D. December 27, 2017

    Black Panther is going to play like Wonder Woman here at the domestic box office. Black Panther will easily make more $100M on opening weekend, and more than $320M in its domestic run.

  7. Avatar
    Dave December 30, 2017

    I’m convinced 12 Strong will be a sleeper hit. This is a role people can accept Chris Hemsworth in, he has a strong supporting cast of very popular character actors, it’s got themes Americans connect with, its had a strong marketing push….. I think a $18M opening is more likely ($1M Thursday night, $5.5M Fri, $8M Sat, $3.5M Sun), with sturdy legs to take it all the way to a $73M domestic or so. Can’t decide if it’ll drop precipitously or have decent legs but an $18M opening places it’s potential at between $60-80M domestic based on typical performances.

  8. Avatar
    Brad January 02, 2018

    I think Insidious will open much higher than the $19.5 predicted here. Six years ago, on the same weekend, The Devil Inside opened to $33.7 million which nobody expected. The last Insidious opened to $22.6 in the summer, but I just think this new one can do better this weekend.

  9. Avatar
    Daniel Vasquez January 02, 2018

    Where’s the new Long Range Forecast for Annihilation and Game Night?


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