“Black Panther” Will Achieve Several Milestones, but the Real Story This Weekend is “I Can Only Imagine”

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Box Office

The faith-based drama based on a popular Christian song came out just ahead of Disney's A Wrinkle in Time over the weekend, while Tomb Raider disappointed in second place.

  Film  Weekend Opening Weekend Current Gross
Black Panther  (Marvel/Disney) $26.6m $202m $605m
Tomb Raider (Warner Bros.) $23.6m $23.6m $23.6m
I Can Only Imagine (Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate) $17.1m $17.1m $17.1m
A Wrinkle in Time (Walt Disney) $16.3m $33.1m $60.8m
Love, Simon (20th Century Fox) $11.8m $11.8m $11.8m

(Note: The numbers above and below have been updated based on actual box.)

pantherimaginetombRaiderBoxOfficeMarvel / Roadside Attractions / Warner Bros.

What a wild weekend we just had at the box office with a number of milestones, a couple surprises and just as many disappointments.

Of course, we have to start with the year's biggest blockbuster so far, Marvel Studios' Black Panther, which crossed the $600 million mark domestically over the weekend, only the sixth movie to make that amount in North America.  It's likely to surpass the $619 million gross of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Marvel's The Avengers' $623 million sometime over the weekend, which would make Black Panther the fifth highest grossing movie domestically of all time.

If that wasn't enough of a milestone to celebrate, Black Panther became the first movie since James Cameron's Avatar (currently the second highest-grossing movie domestically) to achieve five consecutive weekends at #1. After grossing $7.5 million on Friday, Black Panther ended the weekend with $26.6 million, down just 34% from last weekend. That amount is the fourth-highest fifth weekend behind AvatarTitanic and Frozen, and it's now at $605 million in North America.

Overseas, Black Panther brought in another $30 million in 57 markets, 100% of its planned international release, bringing its international total to $577 million and its global cume to $1.18 billion. The movie has made $96 million in China alone, which is not a lot considering that movies have made that amount in a single weekend but amazing for a country where "black movies" normally don't play.

Opening in second place, Warner Bros' Tomb Raider relaunch starring Alicia Vikander grossed $23.6 million over the weekend in 3,854 theaters, an average of $6,132 per theater. Tomb Raider made $9 million on Friday including $2.1 million from Thursday previwes,  but that clearly wasn't enough to stay ahead of Black Panther for the weekend. $2.6 million of that amount was made from 400 IMAX screens. It also received a "B" in CinemaScore's audience polls, which isn't great.

By comparison, the Angelina Jolie movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider opened with $47.7 million in the summer of 2001 and grossed $131.1 million total, but those were different times with a bigger star.

Tomb Raider was in its second weekend overseas where it grossed $84.5 million in 65 markets, including China, where it debuted at #1 with $41.1 million, on par with Wonder Woman and Jumanji's opening in the country. With a reported $90 million production budget, Tomb Raider will be relying on continued expansion overseas to make that money back.

That brings us to the biggest surprise of the weekend...

Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions released the faith-based drama I Can Only Imagine, based on the writer/singer of the popular top-selling Christian song of the same title, into 1,629 theaters Friday. After grossing an impressive $1.3 million in Thursday previews,  the movie directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin (Woodlawn) and starring J. Michael Finley, Brody Rose and Dennis Quaid made $6.3 million on Friday and scored an astounding $17.1 million over its opening weekend. For a little perspective, that's approx. $10.5k per site, the best per-theater average in the top 10, and it took third place, surpassing Disney's A Wrinkle in Time in half as many theaters. We'll have to see how the movie does from here with more faith-based films opening in the coming weeks, but it received a rare "A+" CinemaScore, so word-of-mouth should help drive business.

After opening in second place last week, A Wrinkle in Times, directed by Ava DuVernay, dropped to fourth place with $16.3 million, almost cut exactly half from its $33.3 million opening. The fantasy adventure has grossed $60.7 million domestically so far and is still hoping to get some help from schools going on spring break over the next couple weeks.  A Wrinkle in Time isn't getting much help overseas with the $3.2 million it made in 11 territories, but that's just 22% of the market with lots of room for it to succeed when expanded.

20th Century Fox opened Greg Berlanti's gay coming-of-age comedy Love, Simon, starring Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel into 2,402 theaters Friday. After grossing $850k in Thurs. previews and $4.6 million on Friday (running neck and neck with Wrinkle its opening day), the high school rom-com fell behind over the weekend to gross just $11.8 million. Love, Simon also received an "A+" CinemaScore, which is already quite rare, but I don't remember any time in recent memory where two movies received "A+" from audiences.

That's the top 5 right there with the New Line comedy Game Night taking sixth place with $5.6 million, followed by Sony's Peter Rabbit with $5.2 million and Strangers: Prey at Night with $4.7 million (down 54%) to take eighth place. Game Night has crossed the $50 million point with $54.2 million grossed so far while Peter Rabbit surpasses $100 million with $102.4 million in six weeks.

Focus Features released the political thriller 7 Days in Entebbe, directed by José Padilha and starring Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike and Golden Globe nominee Daniel Brühl, into 838 theaters. Like Thoroughbreds last weekend, that might have been too wide for what should have been a specialty release. It wound up outside the top 10 with just $1.6 million, less than $2,000 per theater.

As far as other specialty releases, the Orchard released Max Winkler's Flower, starring Zoey Deutch, Kathryn Hahn and Adam Scott into three theaters in New York and L.A., where it made $48.9k or $16.3k per theater, which isn't bad at all for a lower profile release that premiered at last year's Tribeca Film Festival.

(Source: boxofficemojo.com. Figures represent estimated numbers at time of writing, and they may change.)

 Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor