Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is not a failure, but it will not breach $850 million before heading to Disney+.
As the date for when it moves to Disney+ has been officially announced, it seems the second Black Panther film will not even break the $850 million mark. While it is by no means a flop, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever did not meet the initial projections. And although it has surpassed Thor: Love and Thunder, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will stand as the most successful Marvel Cinematic Universe film for 2022.
But what does this imply about the final MCU Phase Four film? And what does it signal for the future of the franchise? Will there be a third film? Read on for the details below.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had the third-biggest opening for Phase 4, behind Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
While none of the MCU movies hit the billion-dollar club in 2022, Disney and Marvel Studios had high projections for the sequel to the 2018 film. There were even projections that it would surpass the first film’s box office and join the billion-dollar club, along with other 2022 winners like Jurassic World: Dominion and Top Gun: Maverick.
However, it looks like the MCU's last Phase Four film will not get even close to its predecessor’s box office success. The first film opened with $202 million domestically and grossed $1.38 billion worldwide at the box office.
Given the success of the first Black Panther, getting its sequel into the billion-dollar club seemed like a guarantee. And after it earned $84,285,721 on its opening day on November 11, 2022, there was no reason to doubt it would achieve its goal. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever held steady in its third weekend, which took place during the holiday season.
But it fell over 60% domestically in its fourth weekend. It only grossed $17 million after the holiday season ended. Furthermore, the international market didn't support the film as well as it should have, making only $381,768,705, as of the most recent tally. As of the most recent box office numbers of the weekend of January 6 to 8, 2023, Wakanda Forever made only $3.4 million.
Estimated Weekend #BoxOffice Top 8 for Jan. 6 - Jan. 8, 2023
1. #AvatarTheWayOfWater - $45.00M
2. #M3GAN - $30.20M
3. #PussInBoots - $13.12M
4. #AManCalledOtto - $4.20M
5. #WakandaForever - $3.40M
6. #IWannaDanceMovie - $2.40M
7. #TheWhale - $1.54M
8. #BabylonMovie - $1.43M pic.twitter.com/EvXBD0jMUF
— BoxOfficeReport.com (@BORReport) January 8, 2023
There are multiple factors that blunted Wakanda Forever’s run to the billion dollar mark. One significant factor is streaming. Since movie theaters reopened after the COVID pandemic, people have gotten used to streaming content from the comfort of their homes.
With all theatrical movies also coming to theaters within a month or two, many people are willing to wait and watch their movies at no extra cost. This has brought about a significant change in market dynamics. An example of this is from DC’s own Black Adam starring Dwayne Johnson. While the film’s theatrical run underperformed, it hit big once it arrived on HBO Max and became the number 1 movie being streamed by subscribers.
MCU movies generally followed Disney+'s 45-day release deadline after they hit theaters. So many fans have been waiting for movies like Thor: Love and Thunder to be released on Disney+. On top of that, all streaming services offer a ton of solid content for everyone to binge watch at no extra cost. Having said that, Wakanda Forever does break the mold by having an 82-day theatrical run before it goes to the Disney Plus streaming service.
Wakanda Forever also did not live up to the first film being a cultural touchstone. Although the introduction of Aztec and Mayan elements (replacing the fictional Atlantis) in the form of Namor (played by Tenoch Huerta) and the Talokan attempted to reach the Latino community, it does not appear to have had the same impact as 2018’s Black Panther did to its African roots.
One other factor is the absence of lead star Chadwick Boseman. While the Wakanda Forever cast did their best, Boseman’s presence and charisma as T’Challa and Black Panther provided much of the gravitas of the original movie. The sequel’s somber tone in acknowledging the loss of the actor only reinforced how important his role was.
It also did not help that Black Panther 2 did not get a release in China. DC Studios' Black Adam also failed to secure a release in the Chinese market, which could have made a big difference in its final box office numbers with Dwayne Johnson's popularity in that area. On that note, the first Black Panther attributes $105,062,459 of its international box office take to its China release.
The final big factor would be the timing. James Cameron’s juggernaut Avatar: The Way of Water released only a month after. This cut into the repeat viewings that Wakanda Forever might have had without such stiff competition. Interestingly, the sequel to the first Avatar from 2009 has sailed past Top Gun: Maverick’s record, making it the most successful 2022 theatrical release.
Despite all this, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is still profitable and reached noteworthy achievements. This includes reaching the highest domestic box office return for a female-led film. Morevover, the odds that there will be a third film is more than likely favorable, though the final box office numbers may have an impact on the direction the third Black Panther film will take.
As of the time of this writing, Box Office Mojo tracked Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s worldwide gross at $827,206,321. The film arrives on Disney+ February 1, 2023.