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Box Office: 'Black Panther' Sinks 'Titanic,' Tops $1.3 Billion, Wins 'Black Jeopardy'

As has been custom for the last several Monday mornings, here is a quick list of a few new records or new milestones that Black Panther surpassed over its most recent weekend. This may be the last of these, as there are nearly no more worlds left for T’Challa to conquer. But, without further ado, here we go…
34th-biggest grosser of all time (adjusted for inflation):

Black Panther made headlines this weekend when it sailed past the unadjusted domestic gross of Titanic ($659 million, including reissues) to become the third-biggest grosser in unadjusted earnings. But since ticket prices go up every year and the various upcharges (IMAX, 3D, D-Box, etc.) can factor into higher raw earnings, the pure domestic list can be slightly deceiving. Adjusted for inflation, Titanic’s $659m gross would be around $1.244 billion, good for fifth place in the inflation-adjusted list behind only E.T. ($435m, counting reissues/$1.302b adjusted), The Sound of Music ($159m in 1965/$1.307b adjusted), Star Wars ($460m, counting reissues/$1635b adjusted) and Gone with the Wind ($199m, counting reissues/$1.854b adjusted).

Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($937 million in 2015/$992m adjusted) is in 11th place on the adjusted-for-inflation list while Avatar ($760m in 2009/$893m adjusted) is 15th. Black Panther is 34th. The hope is that it gets past $687m. At that point, it’ll be the 30th-biggest flick ever even when adjusted for inflation and so it can claim to have sold more tickets than The Dark Knight and Thunderball, and passing Batman and Bond deserves a trophy. Inflation matters in raw comparisons, but there were a lot fewer entertainment options even eight years ago than there are today. Any movie selling around 72.4 million tickets in this Netflix-and-chill era is darn impressive.


10th movie to gross over $1.3 billion worldwide.

Walt Disney DIS +0.9% essentially pranked me yesterday, releasing the new global numbers that put Black Panther’s global cume at literally $1.2999 billion worldwide. But it’s happening today for sure, so it counts. Anyway, Black Panther is still the 10th-biggest global grosser of all time, between Frozen ($1.277b in 2013/2014) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($1.33b in 2017/2018). Considering it “only” made $12.9m worldwide this past weekend, I don’t think it’s going to make it past The Last Jedi to take the ninth spot. But considering it only dropped 26% in North America for an $8.4m eighth weekend, it’s no longer a mission: impossible. I’m not sure Disney wants Black Panther to top The Last Jedi, but that’s a conversation for later this week.

3rd-biggest (unadjusted) grosser of all time:

Black Panther became the third film to earn more at the North American box office than James Cameron’s Titanic, including the second flick to do so in just over two years. It also makes Black Panther the biggest-grossing movie ever from a director whose first name doesn’t star with the letter J. That’s important. The current domestic cume, $665 million, puts it between Titanic ($659m, counting reissues) and Avatar ($760m in 2009/2010) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($937m in 2015/2016). Black Panther has made more money in a single calendar year than any other flick. That’s partially, I would argue, why it did so much damage to the March competition.

If Black Panther’s domination teaches studios that they need fewer tentpoles and more studio programmers (like Game Night and A Quiet Place) as counterprogramming against the biggie of the moment, that may be a net-positive. The Chadwick Boseman flick does not have nearly enough gas left to get anywhere near the $760 million total of Avatar. At this point, the goal is getting over $687m so Black Panther can beat Batman and Bond. And barring a fluke, I don’t think anything else out there (other than maybe Star Wars 9 or Avatar 2) has a realistic shot at swiping Black Panther’s bronze medal.

Yeah, I guess Avengers: Infinity War could essentially sell as many tickets as The Avengers ($623 million in 2012/$706m adjusted), but it essentially has to in order to match what Black Panther just pulled off.

Oh, and T'Challa won Black Jeopardy too!

This was a strong SNL sketch, but I'm still sad that there was no sketch about Chadwick Boseman being cast in a biopic about Chadwick Boseman.

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