Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther is already set to have a huge debut at the box office in February. Fandango reports that the first 24 hours of ticket presales for the film were the largest it’s ever seen for a Marvel movie. The record was previously held by Captain America: Civil War, which was released in 2016.
In a press release, Fandango also reported results from a user survey, saying Black Pantherwas 2018’s second most-anticipated movie (behind Avengers: Infinity War) and that star Chadwick Boseman was the most-anticipated standalone comic book movie hero.
This should come as no surprise. Last summer, the critical and box office response to DC’s Wonder Woman proved unequivocally that representation is important to movie-going audiences, and that a superhero doesn’t have to be played by a white dude named Chris to fill seats. With $100.5 million in North America and an additional $122.5 million internationally, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman had the biggest-ever opening weekend for a film directed by a woman. It was a box office giant by any measure — the 16th superhero movie ever to break $100 million domestically in its first weekend, and the third highest-grossing DC movie behind Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.
And the social media excitement around Black Panther has been unavoidable in recent months. Kendrick Lamar recently announced that he produced the soundtrack at the Ryan Coogler’s personal request, and debuted a new song with Vince Staples as part of the film’s latest TV spot. The first full trailer was viewed 89 million times in its first 24 hours, and year-end data compiled by Twitter showed that Black Panther was the ninth most tweeted about film of 2017, the only one on the list that hadn’t even been released yet. High expectations can be a recipe for frustration when people actually see the movie — look at the endless online war over The Last Jedi — but the film’s fandom still has a few weeks to enjoy their anticipation.