By Erick Johnson, Chicago Crusader
The wait is finally over. For local movie theatres, the rush is on.
Blacks in Chicago and America are jamming theaters this weekend to watch the long-anticipated, unprecedented screening of Black Panther, a Marvel Comics movie with an all-Black, big-name cast.
Years in the making, the movie has received five-star reviews from major publications and has generated months of box office hype not seen in years. For Hollywood, the movie makes a spectacular debut that will break the racial barriers that kept Black actors out of action-packed superhero blockbusters for decades.
The film opened Thursday, February 15, but the movie had already broken records because of pre-sold tickets. In Chicago, demand for more tickets is pushing local theaters to beef up the number of show times for Black Panther. While the movie is generating a lot of interest at many theaters, in the Black community, tickets are the hottest. From theatres to patrons, things are poppin’.
Marcus Theatres in Country Club Hills is offering free popcorn at its opening night showing at 6 p.m.
At the Chatham Studio Movie Grill on 87th Street, managers will have 11 screenings on Friday, opening night, but will have a whopping 30 showings on both Saturday and Sunday.
Mega church, Trinity United Church of Christ, on West 95th street plans to take busloads of its members to see the movie.
As part of its Black History Month celebration, Thornton Township on Friday, February 16, is offering a free screening of Black Panther at the New Vision Lansing 8 Theaters in Lansing, IL.
At Kerasotes Chicago ShowPlace ICON,1011 S Delano Ct, tickets for their Black Panther 3D opening night February 15 have sold out. Guests will receive a Black Panther Commemorative Coin, view bonus footage and receive a free large popcorn. Tickets were $20.00. There will be 15 showings opening night and a whopping 42 showings on both Saturday and Sunday. A spokesman for the theater, Jim Weiss, said they opened additional screens for Monday, February 19.
At the AMC River East 21 theatres in Chicago, guests who attend opening fan night at 6 p.m. will see the movie in 3D and will be given a collectible Black Panther coin and free regular-size popcorn. At $29.75 per adult, tickets are not cheap.
Guests viewing the film opening weekend at the plush AMC Theater at Block 37 on State Street will receive a free Black Panther comic book. Tickets here are also $29.75 per adult.
Popular ticket company Fandango said Black Panther is breaking records, outpacing all first quarter movie releases to become the highest grossing January to March film, with respect to ticket pre-sales. Fandango said Black Panther is tracking to debut with at least $120 million during its opening weekend, assuring that the Ryan Coogler-directed movie will be yet another hit for Marvel Studios. The film is projected to reach $400 million domestically by the end of its run. That sets a pretty high bar for the rest of 2018’s superhero film slate, too.
The movie stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, the new King and protector of the hidden nation of Wakanda. T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.
Black Panther tackles political, spiritual, and cultural issues, making it one of the more unique Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films to date. In addition to a fascinating premise, Black Panther also assembles some of the most acclaimed Black actors across multiple generations, including Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker (Zuri) and Angela Bassett (Ramonda), along with relatively new A-listers like Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia), and Michael B. Jordan (Erik Killmonger).
Black Panther is not only Fandango’s biggest superhero movie ever in terms of pre-release ticket sales, it has also set a record among first quarter movie releases for the site.
“It’s not just a superhero movie, it’s a ground-breaking cultural event,” as Fandango Managing Editor Erik Davis puts it.
As Davis indicates, Black Panther is more than just “the latest” MCU installment and superhero/comic book block- buster. It’s been dubbed a game-changer when it comes to proper representation in Hollywood, with its social and cultural narrative beats cleverly intertwined with the signature Marvel storytelling.
Similar to the movement that Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman inspired last year with regard to female empowerment, Black Panther’s deep dive into African identity and heritage is expected to cause a positive ripple effect in the entertainment industry.
Safe to say that the hype for Black Panther is not dying anytime soon. If anything, people’s anticipation for it is only growing, thanks to the Black Panther social media reactions from last week’s Los Angeles premiere, as well as the first wave of Black Panther reviews that went live in the past several weeks.