Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” premiered in China on Friday, marking the completion of its international tour and helping the film reach the milestone of a billion dollars in ticket revenue.
The first superhero film with an all-black cast had a strong opening in the world’s second-largest film market, scooping up $67 million in ticket sales in just three days. “Black Panther” has grossed more than $1 billion globally since its release less than a month ago.
It has become the first Hollywood film to top China’s box office in 2018, according to film consulting firm Artisan Gateway, as authorities blocked foreign releases during February’s Chinese New Year period to boost the domestic film industry.
Despite the film’s impressive box office debut, “Black Panther” received mixed reviews and sparked heated debate online and on social media. On Chinese film rating website Douban.com, 61% of more than 85,000 moviegoers rated the film as “average” or “bad.”
Few Chinese moviegoers praised and appreciated the film’s breakthroughs in terms of racial diversity, with a large proportion of commentators leaving racially insensitive or blunt comments.
“It’s just another Marvel superhero blockbuster, but the superheroes are replaced by a black cast,” one reviewer said. “The storyline was cliché as always.”
Another said it was “too politically correct in promoting racial equality.”
On L.A.-based Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 97% rating among critics and had an audience score of 79%.
“Black Panther” soon will face a challenge from other Hollywood titles, with Warner Bros.’ “Tomb Raider” set for release in China on March 16 and Fox Searchlight’s Oscar-winning “The Shape of Water” to be released the same day.
“Operation Red Sea” came out on top during the Chinese New Year period after a nearly monthlong battle among Chinese domestic titles.
Hong Kong director Dante Lam’s military action film took $55.5 million last week, giving it $530.6 million after four weeks in theaters and making it the third-highest grossing film in the Middle Kingdom, behind “Wolf Warrior 2” and “The Mermaid.”
Action-comedy “Detective Chinatown 2” came in third, adding $25.8 million for a total of $523.8 million in ticket sales after 24 days.
The domestic patriotic documentary “Amazing China,” which boasts China’s recent achievements, ranked fourth, earning $21.4 million for $36.1 million after 10 days. It overtook “Twenty Two,” a documentary about China’s surviving “comfort women” during World War II, to become the country's highest grossing domestic documentary.
India’s “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” retained fifth place for the second week. It garnered $17.7 million in box office receipts for a total of $26.3 million after 10 days.