A little over a week from its domestic opening next Friday, Marvel and Disney’s “Black Panther” is expected to gross an estimated $150 million in its first weekend — and that assessment came before the onslaught of stellar initial reviews.

After “The Fate of the Furious,” “Black Panther” is the second most-expensive film directed by an African-American. Any Marvel film, particularly one with a sense of original content and a new take on the comic universe, is guaranteed a big opening, but this one also has the full attention of African-American audiences who are among the most-frequent moviegoers, buying about a quarter of all domestic tickets annually — double their share of the population.

“Black Panther” is poised to open better than any of the three Marvel movies in 2017 (the best performer was “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” at $146.5 million). At $150 million or better, it would be ahead of all but two openers last year: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” at $209 million, and “Beauty and the Beast” at $175 million.

At the $150 million estimate, it’s slated to slay a lot of records. The only black-directed film to open over $100 million is F. Gary Gray’s “Furious 7,” at $101 million last year. Second best is Tim Story’s “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” with $77 million. “Scary Movie,” directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans with $72 million, is third.

It will become the top-grossing film with a largely black lead cast, a record currently held by “Straight Outta Compton” (also directed by Gray) at $177 million adjusted. With its $28 million budget, it was a huge hit even with foreign returns that were only a quarter of domestic. “Black Panther,” of course, has a pre-marketing cost of $200 million, and will need foreign revenues.

Similar to DC Comics’ “Wonder Woman,” “Black Panther” is getting particular attention as a breakthrough studio film. Just as Warners entrusted a major franchise title to a female director and lead character, Disney and Marvel placed their bet on an African-American director and a mostly black cast that centers on African culture.

Beyond the anticipation stemming from African-American audiences getting a full-scale Marvel movie to call their own, it could gain across the board from its balance of originality and formula

(Excerpt) Read More in: Indie Wire

‘Black Panther’ Will Break Many Box-Office Records, But Here’s How It Really Stands to Compare

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