One of the big questions with Black Panther, both here on MCU Exchange and elsewhere, has been how the film would do at the international box office. This concern, at least on my part, has nothing to do with the quality of the film. It’s more to do with the history of the main players involved. Chadwick Boseman has minimal overseas box office history, with many of his biggest roles coming in films about distinctly American people and subjects. Ryan Coogler also has seen his box office draw be heavily skewed toward domestic receipts, particular in comparison to a typical Marvel film’s international/domestic balance. We’ve seen with Star Wars that familiarity matters. Even a huge film like The Last Jedi was a flop in China because Chinese audiences weren’t familiar with (or more importantly, nostalgic for) the IP. Also, despite being a Marvel film, we’ve seen with Ant-Man and Doctor Strange in recent years that first films in a franchise can vary in how much they ride the Marvel wave of international good will. Simply put, this film is a bit of an experiment for the international box office returns.
The first receipts are in and they are relatively good. Deadline is reporting the film is number one in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. The comparisons are a bit difficult to make sense of, given the odd release dates of the film. Some of the comps are Tuesdays versus Fridays and February is not a traditional blockbuster month (though that is changing). Black Panther is outperforming Deadpool in the UK, but the X-Men fourth wall breaker was a film with a low international percentage, compared to MCU films. The King of Wakanda is also doing better than Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man in the Asian territories reporting.
At this point, these numbers don’t mean a whole lot. It will help to see full weekend numbers for more apples to apples comparisons. And with all due respect to the good people of Hong Kong and the $500K they dropped on Black Panther, the international picture is far more shaped by some larger markets. In particular, how will the film do in China? For a film like Black Panther major success in China could boost the film 10-20% overall with the possibility of a nine figure haul.