Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament took a hiatus during the pandemic as movie theaters closed for the majority of 2020-2021 and theatrical day-and-date titles on both the big screen and studios’ respective streaming platforms became more prevalent. Coming back from that brink, the studios have largely returned to their theatrical release models and the downstream monies they can bring. Not to mention their power in launching IPs around the world with big global marketing campaigns. When it comes to evaluating the financial performance of top movies, it isn’t about what a film grosses at the box office. The true tale is told when production budgets, P&A, talent participations and other costs collide with box office grosses, and ancillary revenues from VOD to DVD and TV. To get close to that mysterious end of the equation, Deadline is repeating our Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament for 2022, using data culled by seasoned and trusted sources.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
The first Black Panther was a revolution at the box office, becoming the highest-grossing movie ever (at $1.3 billion) featuring actors of color. A sequel was always in store, especially with director Ryan Coogler back, and considering the first movie netted over $476 million in profit and scored three Oscar wins and Marvel’s first Best Picture nomination. But during pre-production in August 2020, tragedy struck with the sudden death 43-year old star Chadwick Boseman (who plays superhero T’Challa) of colon cancer. Producer Nate Moore told Deadline that there was a beat when Marvel wondered whether it should even make a sequel, but given the world’s reaction to Boseman’s death, those involved felt the best thing to do was to memorialize him. A new draft by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole would reflect T’Challa’s passing and his little sister, the tech genius Shuri (Letitia Wright), taking on the mask as she grieves and finds her sense of power in the world as their African nation Wakanda comes under siege by an unstoppable nemesis, Namor, leader of the underwater kingdom Talokan. After a number of Marvel movies during Covid fell short of impressing fans (i.e., Black Widow with a B- CinemaScore, Eternals with a B, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with a B+ and Thor: Love and Thunder with a B+), Wakanda Forever restored Marvel in the eyes of moviegoers with an A, as well as with critics (84% certified fresh). Disney pushed the emotionally affecting sequel for Oscars, scoring five noms (including one for Angela Bassett who plays T’Challa’s mother Ramonda) and one win for Costume Design (Ruth E. Carter’s second Oscar for the franchise). However, AMPAS failed to recognize Wakanda Forever with a Best Picture nomination.
THE BOX SCORE
THE BOTTOM LINE
Wakanda Forever charted 2022’s second-best opening at the domestic box office at $181.3M, following Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ $187.4M. Worldwide, Wakanda Forever had the fourth-best debut for an MPA title, grossing $331.6M. At the end of the day it finaled at $454M domestic, $859M global. Some attributed that shortfall to the movie’s long running time (2 hours and 41 minutes), nearly a half-hour longer than the original. The sequel’s worldwide haul was also missing Russia; the first movie made $32M there. Even though Wakanda Forever was one of two Marvel titles returning to China since 2019, it arrived there three months after its global November release and grossed only $15.5M (Black Panther made $105M in the territory). By that time, piracy of Wakanda Forever in China had taken its toll on its box office prospects. Disney, now embracing a long theatrical window for its blockbuster titles, put Wakanda Forever on Disney+ on February 1, 83 days after it played in theaters, having made close to 100% of its domestic gross by that point. Global streaming/TV revenues of $170M include what Disney paid itself to put the movie on Disney+. Even though Wakanda Forever‘s global gross was off 36% from the original movie, the sequel still profits here at $259M.