Black Panther roars out of the box office

By Andrew Weiss

Like any good movie opening up to the public, “Black Panther” found itself in sold-out theater after sold out theater. During opening night on Thursday, it was more likely to find a four-leaf clover that wasn’t frozen solid than a ticket to a North Haven showing of “Black Panther.” Patrons lined the halls of the Cinemark on Universal Drive, a luxurious 14 screen theater, eagerly awaiting the first showings of the newest Marvel masterpiece.

Much like any great movie, however, the lines continued to find their way back. 

On Friday, showings of “Black Panther” sold out quickly throughout the day as reserved seats online and over the phone were snatched up by eager fans. The only way to walk into Cinemark North Haven and watch the new film was with a neck cramp, as the last available seats belonged to the front two rows.

Drive north a few miles to Wallingford, and you’d find the same dilemma at Holiday Stadium Cinemas, where showings sold out hours before the pre-film advertisements flickered on-screen. The sellouts continued all of the way until Sunday, where the 10 screen cinema updated their “Black Panther: sold out times” sheet by the entrance hourly.

“I would encourage everyone to watch it,” Ayanna Simpson said. “It has a beautiful message that doesn’t overpower the film but can be clearly seen, and I think it’s a breath of fresh air from today’s populated climate.”

Simpson serves as the program coordinator for multicultural education at Quinnipiac University. The African and Caribbean Student Union, along with the Student Programming Board and Department of Cultural Global Engagement at Quinnipiac, put together a “Black Panther” viewing event on Friday.

“Overall I thought it was a remarkable film,” Simpson added. “I loved how each character had a complete and complex story.”

Samantha Nardone, a junior public relations major at Quinnipiac, attended the viewing party with fellow Bobcats.

“It’s really important that they kind of defeated (the) stereotype that everyone in Africa is poor, because there are some wealthy countries in Africa and there are poorer areas,” Nardone said. 

“It’s important to show the pride people can have in black culture. So many movies and TV shows don’t show that at all (and) I think this movie helped to reduce that myth and stereotype. It was just awesome to see all the black power and black culture emphasized and the pride in that in this film.”

The nation’s box offices agreed with Nardone. 

Original projections expected “Black Panther” to claw in about $120million over the four-day opening weekend.

As Thursday turned to Friday, and Friday turned to Saturday, moviegoers shattered those projections. 

The three-day opening brought in an estimated $192 million, ranking fifth most all time. Current expectations project $218 million over the four-day holiday weekend in the United States with $361 million worldwide.

The film also broke the record for the largest opening by a movie with an African-American director. Ryan Coogler’s masterpiece destroyed the previous record of $98 million set by F. Gary Gray’s “The Fate of the Furious” back April 2017 of 2017.

Tiana Duggin of West Haven was happy to add to that total.

“This climate right now, because (of how) a lot of people in the world view what African Americans are, this can teach them what we were in the past, and what we can be in the future,” Duggin said.

The film is available for fans of the film, or anyone interested, in North Haven, New Haven and Wallingford.

Quinnipiac will host a roundtable discussion — A Place at the Table —on “Blackness, Heroism and the American Imagination: Can ‘Black Panther’ Expand the Marvel Universe?” The discussion takes place at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday in Buckman Theater. Professors in media studies, English and journalism will moderate. 

Contributions by Thamar Bailey

Andrew Weiss