“Wakanda Forever” was eagerly awaited by both audiences and exhibitors, who showed slow growth at the box office.

With the long-awaited release of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the box office has revived.

The Walt Disney Co. estimated on Sunday that the Marvel sequel earned $180 million in ticket sales from more than 4,396 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, “the second biggest opening of the year behind Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” Overseas, it brought in an additional $150 million from 50 territories, bringing its worldwide total to $330 million.

“Wakanda Forever” has been eagerly awaited by both audiences and exhibitors, who have seen a sluggish run at the box office since the end of the summer movie season and have big releases in the pipeline. Budget blockbusters were low. The film opened slightly stronger than the first film with an $84 million opening day, including $28 million from Thursday previews.

“Some might have expected $200 million like the first movie, but it’s solid,” said ComScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “This is the kind of movie that theaters really need to drive audiences.”

The first film opened to $202 million in February 2018 and went on to gross over $1.4 billion worldwide, making it one of the highest-grossing films of all time and a cultural phenomenon. A sequel was inevitable, and development began soon after director Ryan Coogler returned, but everything changed after Chadwick Boseman’s unexpected death in August 2020. “Wakanda Forever” became, instead, about the death of Boseman’s King T’Challa/Black Panther, and the kingdom of grief he left behind. Returning actors include Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke and Danai Guerra, who take on a new foe in Tenoch-Horta’s Eminence. The film would also face further complications, including Wright’s injury and some COVID-19-related setbacks. All told, it cost $250 million to make, not including marketing and promotion.

AP Film Writer Jack Coyle wrote in his review That, “’Wakanda Forever’ is too long, a bit ominous and somewhat mysteriously building to a climax on a barge in the middle of the Atlantic.

It currently has an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes and, as is often the case with comic book movies, audience scores are even higher.

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Superhero movies have done well during the pandemic, but none have yet reached the heights of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which opened to $260.1 million in December 2021. ($187.4 million in May), “Thor: Love and Thunder” ($144.2 million in July) and “The Batman” ($134 million in March).

“Wakanda Forever” is the first film to open over $100 million since “Thor” in July, which has been tough for exhibitors already dealing with a calendar that’s about 30% off a normal year. There are less wide releases.

Holders populated the rest of the top five, as no film dared to launch against the Marvel behemoth nationwide. Second place went to DC superhero “Black Adam” with $8.6 million, bringing its domestic total to $151.1 million. “Ticket to Paradise” finished third, in weekend four, with $6.1 million. The Julia Roberts and George Clooney romantic comedy has grossed nearly $150 million worldwide. “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” and “Problems” rounded out the top five with $3.2 million and $2.3 million, respectively.

Some awards hopefuls have struggled in their extensions lately, but Searchlight Pictures’ “The Banshees of Insherin,” starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, looks like an exception. The Martin McDonagh film expanded to 960 theaters in its fourth weekend and landed in seventh place on the chart with $1.7 million, bringing its total to $5.8 million.

“It’s been a very interesting post-summer period for movie theaters, with some gems like ‘Ticket to Paradise’ and ‘Smile’ doing well,” said Dergarabedian. “But movie theaters cannot survive on non-blockbuster-style films. The industry needs more of them.

After “Black Panther,” the next blockbuster on the schedule is “Avatar: Waterway,” arriving on December 16.

The weekend wasn’t entirely without some other high-profile releases. Steven Spielberg’s biographical drama The Fable Men It opened with $160,000 in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Universal and Amblin will take the film to more theaters in the coming weeks to build excitement around the potential Oscar contender. Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play the parents of Spielberg stand-in Sammy Fableman, who falls in love with movies and filmmaking as his parents’ marriage breaks up.

“It’s going to be an exciting holiday season,” Dergarabedian said. “I think a lot of dramas and independent films will have their time to shine in the next couple of months.”

According to Comscore, ticket sales are projected for Friday through Sunday at theaters in the US and Canada. Final domestic data will be released on Monday.

1. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” $180 million.

2. “Black Adam,” $8.6 million.

3. “Ticket to Heaven,” $6.1 million.

4. “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile,” $3.2 million.

5. “Smile,” $2.3 million.

6. “Devil Hunt,” $2 million.

7. “The Banshees of Anshirin,” $1.7 million.

8. “One Piece Film Red,” $1.4 million.

10. “It was short,” $380,000.

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