'Black Panther' breaches US$1b in sales after China debut

Actor Chadwick Boseman arrives at the premiere of the new Marvel superhero film 'Black Panther' in London, February 8, 2018. — Reuters pic
Actor Chadwick Boseman arrives at the premiere of the new Marvel superhero film 'Black Panther' in London, February 8, 2018. — Reuters pic

LOS ANGELES, March 11 — Walt Disney Co’s Black Panther has collected more than US$1 billion (RM3.91 billion) at cinemas worldwide, making it the company’s 16th movie to reach that milestone.

The Marvel superhero film, which has been setting sales records, broke into 10 figures after a strong debut in China on Friday. Its US$521 million in US sales puts it among the 10 highest-grossing releases domestically, and international sales are expected to surpass US$500 million this weekend, Disney said in an emailed statement.

The first blockbuster with a black superhero in the leading role, Black Panther has become a symbol for promoting diversity in the movie industry. African-Americans have been drawn to the big screen debut of an African protagonist and a story line that tackles race and colonisation.

Issues like inclusion and sexual harassment in the entertainment industry were also in the spotlight March 4 at the Academy Awards in Hollywood.

China, the largest movie market after the US, has become a lucrative outpost for Disney and Marvel. Avengers: Age of Ultron, a 2015 release, pulled in sales of US$240 million there, while the 2016 hit Captain America: Civil War produced US$181 million.

Heading into the weekend, Black Panther had tallied US$940.3 million in worldwide sales since opening in the US on Feb 16. — Bloomberg

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