Sunday, February 18, 2018

9 Reasons Why 'Black Panther' Changed Everything at the Box Office

Everyone knew "Black Panther" would be huge, but record-breaking-like-a-summer-movie huge?

Just a week or so ago, experts had it beating the February opening-weekend record of $132 million that "Deadpool" set two years ago. But the new Marvel movie's numbers left that R-rated film's record in the dust.

With an estimated three-day debut of at least $195 million, "Black Panther" is not only the biggest February opening of all time, but the fifth biggest opening weekend of all time. It's the second biggest Marvel opening ever, behind only the $207 million of "The Avengers." (It also beat "Avengers: Age of Ultron's" three and four day record, which is scary-good.)

Over the four-day President's Weekend holiday, Disney is projecting that "Black Panther" will earn $218 million.

Even Disney claims to be surprised by how big "Black Panther" is. "The volume of business is bigger than any of us could have imagined," Disney Executive Vice President for Theatrical Distribution Dave Hollis tells Moviefone. "Maybe we shouldn't be surprised by anything anymore," he adds.

Still, he says, "the fact that this stand-alone character story is rivaling the first 'Avengers' film is a staggering and unbelievably satisfying result."

There's a lot of credit to go around for the movie's success. Much of what "Black Panther" had going for it is obvious, but some is less so. Here are nine factors that made the Wakanda saga a winner.

1. It's Marvel
The Marvel brand is now as reliable to audiences as Disney's other major brands, Pixar and "Star Wars." This is the 18th Marvel Cinematic Universe movie and the 18th to open at No. 1. (And the ninth to open above $100 million.) "Black Panther" also earned the rare A+ CinemaScore, which Marvel got once before with 2012's "The Avengers."

Of course, the synergy among the far-flung strands of the MCU helps, too. General audiences may not have known who T'Challa was a couple years ago, but introducing him in "Captain America: Civil War" (2016) was effectively the early launch of the marketing campaign for his stand-alone film. (Though Hollis says that the MCU movies started planting Easter eggs about Wakanda even before that, as far back as 2010's "Iron Man 2.") Speaking of that campaign...

2. Disney's Marketing Muscle
You can't accuse the studio of skimping on promotion, that's for sure.

The widely reported figures have Disney spending nearly $200 million to make "Black Panther" and another $150 million marketing it. Those are typical figures for an MCU installment. Even so, the Wakanda tale reportedly has a bigger line of merchandise and toys than other Marvel films, and it's certainly been unavoidable in advertisements and promotional partnerships with various retailers. Then again, Disney also benefitted from a ton of free promotion from entertainment and business journalists who wrote about what a game-changer the film would be.

3. Timing
It's hard to overstate how important it was for African-Americans to have the opportunity to see a big-budget studio movie with a predominantly black cast, a black director and screenwriters, and most of all, a black superhero whose noble and inspirational qualities go well beyond his physical powers.

Not only are African-Americans an audience hungry to see heroic, complex, fully human representations of themselves on screen, but they're also avid moviegoers who tend to make up a disproportionate number of the ticket-buyers at the multiplex. A pre-release poll suggested that three out of every four African-Americans wanted to see "Black Panther." Various tracking services have reported that they made up about 40 percent of the "Black Panther" audience.

Hollis says Disney now makes a priority of inclusion and representation, not just to be politically correct, but because it makes for better movies and bigger business.

"Audiences deserve to see themselves on screen, not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it makes for better, richer storytelling," he says. He points to such recent hits as the female-fronted "Star Wars" movies, "Moana," and "Coco" as signs that this strategy is paying off both critically and commercially.

4. Social Media
For at least a year, "Black Panther" has been a huge topic on Twitter. Such hashtags as #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe have made "Black Panther" the most tweeted-about film of 2018.

And according to social media tracker RelishMix, fans tweeting about the film as the leave the theater are nearly three times as active as "Star Wars" fans leaving "The Last Jedi" were. Also, the film is Marvel Studios' best reviewed effort -- at 97 percent "Fresh" on RT.

There was some organized anti-"Black Panther" trolling online, from bombing the film with negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes in order to depress the movie's audience score, to trying to discourage attendance by posting faked photos of supposed outbreaks of violence at theaters showing the movie. But those efforts appeared to have no effect on turnout. Facebook stepped in to shut down one troll group, and fans are apparently getting more sophisticated at recognizing such campaigns as astroturf.

5. That Soundtrack Is Great
Honestly, when was the last time you even cared about a movie's accompanying original soundtrack album? (Well, maybe Marvel's two "Guardians of the Galaxy" films.)

Kendrick Lamar's "Black Panther" album, announced less than two months ago, has created its own unique advance buzz for the film. It has leveraged the rapper's own fanbase and social media following (as well as those of guest performers The Weeknd and SZA) to help promote "Black Panther."

6. Critics and Fans Love the Movie
For all the talk about T'Challa as a role model, especially for kids of color, "Black Panther" played to a heavily adult audience. Disney reports that 73 percent of the audience was adults seeing the movie without kids in tow, and that 61 percent of the audience was over 25. That's not atypical for a Marvel movie, and Hollis says he believes more kids will buy tickets in the days to come, especially with Monday being a school holiday.

To the extent that the older audience is one that still relies on critics, it certainly helped that reviewers gave the movie an aggregate 97 percent at Rotten Tomatoes. Paying customers liked the movie as much as critics did, judging by the aforementioned A+ CinemaScore.

7. Women Like the Movie, Too
CinemaScore also found an even split between men and women among ticket-buyers; Disney tracking found the audience skewed just a little more male, with 55 percent men and 45 percent women. Still, that near-even ratio suggests that "Black Panther" has even more appeal to female audiences than many Marvel movies.

The reason, naturally, is that T'Challa is surrounded by strong female characters, literally so in the case of The Dora Milaje, a squad of very capable female warriors/bodyguards. In terms of putting both black and female characters at the center of the film, Hollis calls the movie a "twofer" of inclusiveness.

8. Weak Competition
Not that anything was going to come close to "Black Panther," but the rest of the multiplex was practically filled with crickets and tumbleweeds.

"Peter Rabbit" held on to second place in its second weekend, but that meant a take of just an estimated $17.3 million. Animated comedy "Early Man" got great reviews, but it wasn't able to capitalize on the family audience that was "Black Panther's" only real vulnerability. According to estimates, it premiered in seventh place with a weak $3.2 million, about a third of its pre-weekend predicted take.

No doubt "Early Man" suffered from having too much other competition for the family market, including "Peter Rabbit" and the unstoppable "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" (with an estimated $7.9 million, good for fourth place). And the other new wide release, "Samson," tried to draw the churchgoing crowd, but the Biblical hero didn't even put a dent in the comic-book hero. Opening in tenth place, "Samson" debuted a hair shy of $2 million, also less than half of what was predicted.

"We picked a date intentionally that was less crowded," Hollis says. Not only was there not much competition this weekend, but "Black Panther" will have the mainstream marketplace to itself for another three weeks, until the release of the next Disney epic from an African-American filmmaker: "A Wrinkle in Time," which is tracking to open above $20 million.

9. Shattering International Expectations
Disney's inclusiveness-and-representation strategy seems to be paying off beyond the United States. (As Hollis says, "We make movies for a global audience, from all walks of life.")

Opening in much of the rest of the world this weekend, "Black Panther" earned an estimated $169 million overseas. The film's $361 million global weekend doesn't even include such major markets as China, Japan, and Russia, where the movie has yet to open.

It's long been conventional wisdom in Hollywood that movies with black stars don't do well abroad -- at least not enough to please Hollywood accountants, who are used to blockbuster releases earning more than half of their global take outside the U.S. The international successes of such stars as Will Smith, Denzel Washington, and the diverse"Fast & Furious" franchise cast should have put that myth to bed long ago. If not, it should end with the near-even split between "Black Panther's" domestic and international takes.

As "Black Panther" hurtles toward a potential billion-dollar global take, that old way of thinking is one more glass ceiling that T'Challa will probably shatter.

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'Black Panther' Smashes Records With $218 Million at Holiday Weekend Box Office

LOS ANGELES ( - Disney-Marvel's "Black Panther" is heading for a super-heroic $218 million debut over the four-day President's Day weekend at 4,020 North American locations, estimates showed Sunday.

That number means that "Black Panther," starring Chadwick Boseman and directed by Ryan Coogler, has doubled its original tracking in less than a month. The film, which carries an estimated $200 million production cost, had been tracking to bring in between an impressive $100 and $120 million when first estimates emerged on Jan. 25. Since then, "Black Panther" has become a must-see movie for many moviegoers, underlined when Thursday previews brought in $25.2 million, the largest Thursday night preview gross for a February opener and the second-largest preview gross for a Marvel film.

The film's estimated three-day gross of $192 million is the highest debut ever for a February film and the fifth highest of all time. Combined with an estimated international debut of $169 million from 69 percent of the international market, the estimated global debut stands at $361 million through Sunday.

"Black Panther" has demolished the record for the largest Presidents Day weekend, blowing past "Deadpool's" 2016 mark of $152 million. Overall North American moviegoing for the four-day period should hit $300 million -- far above the $278 million mark in 2016, according to comScore.

"This is proof that the big screen experience may arguably be the most powerful platform of change in our society," said Paul Dergarabedian," senior media analyst with comScore. "The emotional, communal, immersive and bigger than life theatrical experience has an impact that virtually no other medium can match."

Comscore's PostTrak survey of the audience showed outstanding numbers with 77 percent rating "Black Panther" as "excellent" and another 18 percent as "very good."

Boseman portrays King T'Challa, ruler of Wakanda, a technologically advanced society, who conflicts with Michael B. Jordan's Eric Killmonger, who intends to take over the throne. Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong'o, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, and Daniel Kaluuya also star. It's received an A+ CinemaScore, the only Marvel film to have done so besides 2012's "The Avengers."

Sony's second weekend of "Peter Rabbit" should bring in $22.5 million from 3,275 domestic locations for the four-day weekend, yielding an 11-day domestic total of $53 million. The film stars the voice of James Corden as the titular rabbit, along with Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, and Daisy Ridley as Peter's sisters. Domhnall Gleeson stars as the heir to Mr. McGregor's property, with Rose Byrne as the kindly neighbor Bea.

The second weekend of Universal's "Fifty Shades Freed" follows in third with $18 million from 3,768 locations for the Friday through Monday period. The erotic romance stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele -- now Mrs. Grey. Its Friday through Sunday total ($16 million) marks a 57 percent decline from its opening weekend. The film has earned $161 million worldwide in its first eight days.

Sony's ninth weekend of its durable action-comedy "Jumanji: Welcome to Jungle" finished fourth with $10 million at 2,800 venues. The 62-day domestic total will hit almost $380 million, just behind 2005's "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" for 32nd spot on the all-time list.

Clint Eastwood's second weekend of the thriller "The 15:17 to Paris" is set to take fifth, with $9.1 million from 3,042 locations for Warner Bros. The movie, starring the three men who stopped an attempted 2015 terrorist attack on a European train, is projected to have grossed nearly $27 million domestically in 11 days.

Fox's ninth weekend of "The Greatest Showman" continued to show remarkable traction in sixth with a projected $6.3 million at 1,936 locations, which will lift the 62-day total to $155 million for the Hugh Jackman musical.

Nick Park's "Early Man" opened softly this weekend in the U.S. in the seventh slot with $4.2 million from 2,494 North American locations. The British film, which is being distributed in the United States via Lionsgate, utilizes the voice talents of Tom Hiddleston, Timothy Spall, Eddie Redmayne, and Maisie Williams.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Watch Jamie Foxx Abrubtly End TV Interview Over Katie Holmes Question

Jamie Foxx and Katie Holmes have reportedly been dating for years. Just don't ask them about it.

Holmes and Foxx spent Valentine's Day together in Los Angeles. They were spotted heading to an area basketball court together, both in workout gear. Entertainment Tonight shared photos and a little video.

But, seriously, they're not interested in opening up about their relationship, so stop even trying.

Foxx was just on ESPN's "SportsCenter" talking to Michael Smith about the All-Star Celebrity Game during NBA All-Star weekend in L.A. Foxx was game to talk about how he prepared, but he was not happy when Smith tried to segue into a question about Foxx preparing by playing basketball with Holmes on Valentine's Day. In response, Foxx -- still smiling -- just took off his headset and walked away. Interview over.

Watch, it's kind of wonderful:

Holmes and Foxx have reportedly been dating since 2013, a year after her split from Tom Cruise. They finally went public with their relationship over Labor Day weekend, just holding hands on the beach. They didn't give any statements but it seemed obvious that they knew they were being photographed and were OK with it. There was speculation, at the time, that the summer 2017 timing was due to Holmes' divorce agreement with Cruise.

Katie Holmes actually has a new movie coming out, "Dear Dictator," opening March 16th. Jamie Foxx is playing Little John in the new "Robin Hood" movie opening in September.

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'Grey's Anatomy' Star Offers More Japril Hope, as Maggie's New Boyfriend Meets Mer

Yes, Maggie Pierce finally has her own man! And that man -- her Tinder date, Clive Johnson -- will soon meet Meredith Grey and Amelia Shepherd in "Grey's Anatomy" Season 14, Episode 14.

That episode, called "Games People Play," airs Thursday, March 8.

ABC shared a synopsis for the hour:

"Maggie's relationship with Clive starts to progress, and she invites him over for a game night to meet Meredith and Amelia. Meredith and Jo meet with the owner of the patent to the polymer they need for their project, who coincidentally is a friend of the family."

Friend of the family? Intriguing.

Anyway, that game night sounds fun. Then again, game nights can get competitive, and you never know what competition will bring out in people. Mer is Maggie's half-sister, and Amelia and Maggie are like sisters. So he's basically meeting her siblings. Hopefully Maggie and Clive stay happy together, but -- if not -- here's still hoping that doesn't mean "Grey's" tries to bring her back to her *stepbrother* Jackson Avery.

Jackson already asked Maggie out and she turned him down. Jackson also has an intern who is *quite* interested in him. And even though his ex-wife April Kepner has already dipped into the intern pool herself, April actress Sarah Drew said she's still not over her daughter's daddy.

"I don't think she's ready to move on," Sarah Drew told TV Guilde. "I think she'd like to say that she's moving on. I think she knows that's the most evolved thing to do but I don't think she's there yet."

Japril fans aren't ready for her to move on either. So now we have a bit more hope that Jaggie is over and Japril will reunite in a romantic way, not just in the hospital as (often tense) co-workers.

"Grey's Anatomy" returns Thursday, March 1 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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Shuri of 'Black Panther' Is Everyone's Favorite New Disney Princess

"Black Panther" standout Shuri (Letitia Wright) isn't *technically* a Disney princess, but nobody cares. It's also possible she'll be a lot more in future Marvel movies...

Princess Shuri of Wakanda is the teenage sister of T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). She's smarter than Tony Stark, and almost as much of a smart-aleck. As leader of the Wakandan Design Group, she's an engineering and robotics genius. She's also just the coolest person in the room -- and in Wakanda, and in the world? -- and fans absolutely adored actress Letitia Wright in the role. In a film with several breakouts, Shuri shined the brightest for many viewers.

Also, since she is a princess, and Marvel is owned by Disney, she's as much of a Disney princess as Princess Leia. Fans want her in the official canon -- or they'll just keep calling her a Disney princess anyway.

Fans are looking forward to seeing a lot more of Shuri as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues. Next up is "Avengers: Infinity War," opening May 4.

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Jennifer Lawrence's 'Red Sparrow' Nudity Made 'Everybody Else Uncomfortable' 

Jennifer Lawrence was almost too comfortable getting nude on the set of her new movie "Red Sparrow." But she sounded genuinely chagrined when admitting her top was unbuttoned throughout Amy Schumer's "very sudden" Valentine's Day wedding.

Lawrence talked to Entertainment Tonight for the premiere of "Red Sparrow," which includes a nude scene for her sexy Russian spy character:

"There's like one particular scene in the whole movie. The night before was worse. And then when I showed up, everybody made me feel so comfortable that I probably at a certain point started making everybody else uncomfortable. Because I'd be like, 'I don't want the robe. I'm hot!' I'm, like, eating. And everybody's like, 'She needs to cover up.'"

Lawrence also revealed her dog Pippi was on set, and got upset by one scene where Lawrence was in a knife fight and fell to the ground. Little Pippi barked and ran over. "She was going to sacrifice her life for her mom!"

Speaking of true love, Lawrence was one of the A-list guests at Schumer's wedding, and she talked to ET about that, too:

"It was beautiful. It was very sudden, but it was, I was sobbing the whole -- his vows were stunning. It's when two people really love each other and they really mean it, it shows, and it was a beautiful ceremony and an amazing time. I couldn't be happier for them."

For the wedding, Lawrence recycled the pink sleeveless Philosophy dress she wore to an event in December. (That's the photo at top.) But this time, she was afraid she accidentally upstaged the bride:

"Notice my shirt was accidentally undone the whole time," Lawrence told ET. "In every wedding photo all of my buttons were undone. It looks like I was like, 'Oh, you thought this was going to be about you?'"

Haha. It's true, though. If you look at the photos Schumer posted on Instagram, Lawrence's buttons are all the way down. Apparently that was not intentional.

"Red Sparrow" -- with intentional JLaw flashing -- opens in theaters March 2nd.

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'Black Panther' Fans Turned Off as Theater Accidentally Plays 'Fifty Shades Freed' 

Oops! One Atlanta patron taped the (hilarious) confusion, which lasted five un-sexy minutes.

"Black Panther" opened Friday, Feb. 16, but eager fans packed theaters for Thursday night screenings. One screening in Atlanta, Georgia did not go as planned when the theater accidentally played the first few minutes of R-rated "Fifty Shades Freed" instead of the PG-13 Marvel movie.

Most of the fans were not exactly turned on by Christian and Ana's wedding, and made their feelings known.

Check out the audience reaction from this fan's videos:

At least he enjoyed the show-before-the-show. This fan -- Steve/The Chef from "The Chef, The Angry and The Adam Podcast" -- said others were pissed, but he just laughed. He took his 13-year-old nephew with him and joked "he had to close his eyes" for the five minutes of "Fifty Shades" footage. At least one other fan also shared reaction from the same theater:

It was either an innocent mistake or someone's expert trolling. Either way, it's pretty funny. And the movie eventually played, so no longterm harm done.

According to Variety, "Black Panther" earned about $25.2 million from Thursday night preview showings and is tracking to possibly make a massive $200 million in North America from the four-day Presidents Day weekend.

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