Most basketball teams that play during March Madness “only” need to rack up five straight wins to be crowned national champs. If the box-office tourney followed suit … well, hail to the king.
Disney’s Black Panther has proven all but unstoppable this year, collecting an estimated $27 million en route to its fifth straight victory. Granted, North American multiplexes aren’t exactly stocked with heavyweight contenders this time of year: It’s not that they’re yellow or anything, but most would-be tentpole blockbusters wait for late spring and summer to show their true colors. Still, we’ve not seen a film take home five straight victories since 2009’s Avatar, when I was still a movie-reviewing greenhorn. Black Panther’s success surely has the rest of the field feeling a bit blue.
Black Panther’s victory pushed its total domestic haul to $605.4 million, making it the seventh highest-grossing film of all time. It’s earned nearly that much overseas, giving the Marvel sensation a $1.2 billion total tally. Wakanda’s monarch has proven to be a purple movie majesty.
Black Panther’s robust performance kept Tomb Raider from plundering the top spot. That actioner only managed to pocket $23.5 million in box-office booty, settling for second.
Black Panther’s near-record-setting performance aside, perhaps the weekend’s biggest story came courtesy the Christian film industry. I Can Only Imagine, a movie based on MercyMe’s multi-platinum song, sparkled. It earned $17.1 million or thereabouts—the best opening for a Christian film since Heaven is for Real. But even those figures don’t tell the whole story. Playing at just 1,629 theaters—about 2,200 fewer than either Black Panther or Tomb Raider—I Can Only Imagine boasted the weekend’s highest per-theater gross at $10,476 per locale. Even Black Panther, for all its well-documented fiscal prowess, only managed a $7,049 per-theater take this weekend.
The weekend’s fourth new release, 7 Days in Entebbe, finished well outside the top five, pocketing just $1.6 million for 13th place.