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‘Black Panther’ keeps smashing records, exceeding box-office expectations and making history

“Black Panther.” (Marvel Studios)

“Wakanda forever” — especially at the box office.

Marvel’s “Black Panther” has managed to not just meet but also continue to blow through the feverish box-office hype that preceded its release last week. The Ryan Coogler-directed epic set in the technologically advanced, mythical nation of Wakanda has made an estimated $400 million at domestic box offices, according to Box Office Mojo’s Sunday estimates.

“Black Panther” hit that mark in just 10 days, tying it with “Jurassic World” as the second-fastest movie to reach $400 million. Only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” did that faster (in eight days).

In addition to having the biggest Monday take ever, “Black Panther” made $108 million during its second weekend, placing it just behind the 2015 Star Wars installment as having the best sophomore weekend ever. For context: “Black Panther” was originally projected to gross in the $100 million neighborhood during its opening weekend. But it ended up grossing $242 million in four days over Presidents’ Day, making it the second-biggest debut (not adjusted for inflation).

“Never in a million years did we imagine that you all would come out this strong. It still humbles me to think that people care enough to spend their money and time watching our film,” Coogler wrote on social media after the movie’s record-breaking opening weekend. “But to see people of all backgrounds wearing clothing that celebrates their heritage, taking pictures next to our posters with their friends and family, and sometimes dancing in the lobbies of theaters, often moved me and my wife to tears.”

Ryan Coogler says he was moved ‘to tears’ by the support for ‘Black Panther’

The success of “Black Panther” has also been heralded as a strong and unequivocal message to Hollywood, where filmmakers and actors say they have long wrestled with preconceived notions that movies with predominantly black and female characters are financial risks and don’t fare well on the global market.

Many fans in 2018 used "Black Panther" to celebrate a shift toward a more positive, empowering portrayal of people from the continent of Africa. (Video: Ashleigh Joplin/The Washington Post)

“Black Panther” also is the highest-grossing movie with a black director, according to Fandango. That’s even after adjusting for inflation. In two weeks, it has already become the fifth-highest-grossing Marvel movie and is about $9 million shy of taking the third spot by surpassing “Iron Man 3″ and “Captain America: Civil War.” (“The Avengers” occupies the top spot, with $623 million).

Movies tend to drop off at the box office during their second weekend, but “Black Panther” has incredible staying power for a movie with such a giant debut, dropping off just 46.5 percent from its first to second weekend.

As for the foreign box-office take, “Black Panther” has made a gross $300 million, but the movie hasn’t even opened in some of the biggest global markets, such as China (that happens March 9). Before “Black Panther” leaves theaters, it could very well hit $1 billion worldwide.

Audiences have given the movie high marks. According to Fandango, “Black Panther” joins only “The Avengers” as being a comic-book superhero movie with a perfect rating on CinemaScore, which polls moviegoers on opening night.

And critics are big fans, too. “Black Panther” has a 97 percent Rotten Tomatoes score — the highest of any comic-book superhero movie.

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