In spite of the most massive list of superheroes ever assembled on the big screen and a publicity campaign that started almost before the movie was in production, comic book writer Mark Millar thinks this summer's Avengers: Infinity War will finish out its box office run without surpassing the mark set by Black Panther.
"I'm going to make a bold, crazy prediction and you can giggle all you want: But I think Black Panther is going to outgross Avengers: Infinity War," Millar tweeted earlier today. "I can feel it in my BONES."
The idea might sound farfetched, but there are a few reasons to believe it is not crazy.
First of all, Black Panther is currently the second-highest-grossing Marvel Studios movie of all time at the domestic box office (behind the first Avengers movie and ahead of the second). It is expected to have another strong weekend, and the idea of it becoming #1 -- it would need to make another $100 million or so in North America before it ends its theatrical run -- is far from crazy.
That would mean that, in order to surpass Black Panther's record-setting take, Infinity War would have to be the highest-grossing Marvel Studios movie of all time. Certainly, there are probably a good number of analysts at Disney who are hoping for that possibility, possibly even expecting it. It is not, however, guaranteed.
At a time when Marvel's box office fortunes seemed to be ever-increasing, Avengers: Age of Ultron made a spectacular $459 million at the domestic box office, which still left it far short of its predecessor's domestic total. An international haul of nearly $950 million helped Age of Ultron to come close to Avengers's $1.52 billion worldwide gross, but it never did catch up globally either. In the time since Marvel's The Avengers broke the $1 billion mark and became one of the highest-grossing films of all time, only Captain America: Civil War and Iron Man 3 have come anywhere close to Black Panther in terms of solo film grosses, but Black Panther has already passed both of them at the domestic box office.
In its first two full weeks at the box office, Black Panther outgrossed The Avengers by a little over $30 million. It is not projected to have as massive a third week as Avengers did -- in part due to competition from A Wrinkle in Time at the box office this weekend -- but the odds are not bad that it will pass the Avengers' all-time domestic take of $623 million (some of which came from a theatrical re-release) before all is said and done. Black Panther is poised to break through the $550 million mark domestically and the $1 billion mark worldwide by the end of this weekend.
There is no guarantee that Black Panther will overtake The Avengers either domestically (although it seems likely) or internationally (less so). It will almost certainly outperform at least Captain America: Civil War and Iron Man 3 globally, knocking at the door of the lofty worldwide totals only the combined might of the Avengers have so far been able to unlock.
So what about Infinity War?
The expectations for the film are difficult to judge so far -- as they have often been with Marvel movies. At one point, there was debate as to whether Avengers could break $100 million in its opening weekend (it made over twice that). Later, many analysts thought Age of Ultron was a shoo-in to beat its predecessor (it didn't, opening at $191 million). Early analysis assumed Black Panther would hover around the $75 million to $100 mark ($202 million).
But what we have to work with so far -- admittedly an imperfect science -- is an estimate that the film will open huge, with between $200 million and $225 million, but sink faster than Black Panther or The Avengers did due to summer competition and end up with a domestic take somehwere between $500 and $600 million.
Obviously if Black Panther manages to pass the $623 million of The Avengers, it would require Infinity War to overperform pretty significantly against those expectations in order to match that. Of course, there is nothing to say that it won't...but Disney might do well to remember that lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place, and Black Panther's massive performance relative to expectations may be difficult to duplicate.
Another factor might be the length of Infinity War, which is said to be the longest Marvel movie to date. We saw with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that extremely long movies, even if they sell out most of their opening-weekend screenings, have a difficult time generating the truly monster openings that you can get with an extra showing on each screen all weekend long.
Whether or not it manages to best Black Panther seems largely academic as long as Disney is happy with the film's performance in its own right, but certainly the conversation about Black Panther's appeal and its takedown of so much Hollywood conventional wisdom will have another dimension if it stands -- at least for a while -- as the biggest superhero movie of them all.0comments
At this point, Black Panther is writing its own history as a Marvel Cinematic Universe milestone - and its cultural impact will be felt for years to come. We look forward to seeing how long this victory lap can last - how about you? Let us know your thoughts on Black Panther in the comments section!
Black Panther is now in theaters. It will be followed by Avengers: Infinity War on April 27th, Ant-Man and the Wasp on July 6th, Captain Marvel on March 8th, 2019, the fourth Avengers movie on May 3rd, 2019, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5th, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.