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Weekend Box Office: Black Panther Tops Tomb Raider for Fifth Straight Weekend Win

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By Chris Kavan - 03/18/18 at 06:31 PM CT

You know, I really though that Wakanda Forever thing was just fun to say, but it's looking like Black Panther is taking that catchphrase seriously. For the fifth weekend in a row the Disney/Marvel hit Black Panther fended off Tomb Raider and a surprisingly strong I Can Only Imagine to take the top spot at the box office. Alicia Vikander tried her best, but middling reviews and audience apathy just couldn't elevate Tomb Raider to mid-level results. It was much better news for the faith-based I Can Only Imagine, which opened in third with great audience response and one of the biggest openings for a film in the genre.

1) BLACK PANTHER

As far a broken records go, Disney can't be complaining. Black Panther added another $27 million to its total, which crossed the $600 million mark over the weekend for a new total of $605 million. That is the fourth best fifth weekend on record, and only the fourth film to remain at the top of the box office for five straight weeks, the last film being Avatar. It joins rarefied territory, becoming just the seventh film ever to cross $600 million, as it sets its site on the record books by looking to top Avengers ($623 million) to become the biggest superhero film of all time - a mark it will pass by next weekend. Now the big question will be how Avengers: Infinity War stacks up, and considering its record pre-sales, looks to be just as big, if not bigger when everything is laid down. Disney is going to have a monster year, with Solo: A Star Wars Story also on the way - perhaps a record year in their own right. It is doing great business worldwide as well, up to $1.182 billion, including nearly $100 million from China (not the best, but on par with Wonder Woman). It is fourth on the list globally, and should be able to top Iron Man 3 ($1.215 billion) but the Avengers films ($1.4 and $1.5 billion) may be just out of reach. I don't think Disney will complain, as they hold pretty much all the records outside the Fast & Furious franchise in that department.

2) TOMB RAIDER

Once again a video game adaptation fails to live up to expectations. The $23.5 million opening for the rebooted Tomb Raider isn't a bad number, but it is severely mediocre. Alicia Vikander, by most accounts, makes an excellent Lara Croft for a new generation, but, unfortunately the generic "origin" story and action didn't impress cirtics (49% on Rotten Tomatoes) or audiences, who awarded it a blah "B" Cinemascore. Still, that 49% is the highest-rated average for a live-action video game and the $23.5 opening is still the sixth best opening for a video game movie (the original Tomb Raider still holds the honor with a $47 million opening) and it should be looking at a total in the $65-$70 million range. The $90 million film is doing better overseas, where it has already earned $102 million (including $41 million from China) thus it should have no trouble at least reaching the black when everything is counted up. It's tough to say whether we're going to get another Vikander-led Tomb Raider film based on these results, but I am holding out hope as the series deserves it.

3) I CAN ONLY IMAGINE

I may often lament the release of faith-based films, but that is because most of them use the worst kind of pandering to bring out target audiences, using faith more like a threat than an appealing draw. I Can Only Imagine looked to me like it wasn't as bad as some of the more egregious offenders, and I don't know if that made a difference, but audiences turned out for this one. With an "A+" Cinemascore, audiences also loved the film, based on a popular Christian song from the band MercyMe - with the film telling the story behind the song. With a $17.06 million opening, the film delivered the seventh-best opening for a faith-based film (fourth if you eliminate the Chronicles of Narnia films) and the biggest opening for Roadside Attractions, earning four times their second-best opening of $4.2 million for Forever My Girl. Depending on how it holds up - it could also be the highest-grossing film for Roadside, Manchester by the Sea holds that honor with $47.69 million - but it will certainly pass Mud ($21 million) to at least move up to second place by next weekend. Based on the opening and audience response, I Can Only Imagine looks to follow in the footsteps of The Shack, which opened to $16 million on its way to a $56 million total. It does face direct competition next week with the biblical Paul, Apostle of Christ, but I have a feeling this will win out.

4) A WRINKLE IN TIME

After a somewhat disappointing opening weekend, A Wrinkle in Time tumbled 50% with a $16.56 million weekend and a new total of $61 million. The inspirational Ava DuVernay film looks to wind up around the $90 million mark on the domestic front, with $10.6 million overseas as it rolls out in various territories. The film should still wind up being profitable, but probably not nearly as good as Disney was hoping for - though they shot themselves in the foot by not taking into account just how big Black Panther was going to be. In any case, A Wrinkle in Time is going to be a minor hit - good enough to avoid being a setback.

5) LOVE, SIMON

Rounding out the top five is the third new entry, the teen romance/drama Love, Simon. With a $11.5 million opening, the $17 million budgeted film is on its way to also become profitable. The film got great reviews and audiences awarded it an "A+" Cinemascore and it also happens to be the first teen romance revolving around a gay teen. Given all the positive buzz, the opening seems low, but hopefully it enjoys a long-gestating box office run. It opened right in line with the likes of Paper Towns ($12.6 million) and Everything Everything ($11.7 million), both of which made over $30 million. Given that audiences seem more receptive, we'll see if Love, Simon can hit at least $40 million or maybe even more - the teen-centric If I Stay only opened to $15 million, but wound up with over $50 million in the end. Still, the film will easily cover its budget and if the subject matter doesn't drive too many conservatives away, it should be a nice earner.

Outside the top five: The based-on-a-true story action-oriented 7 Days in Entebbe had almost zero marketing and was released in just enough theaters to be considered a wide release, but made little impact at the box office with a $1.62 million opening (13th place). I have a feeling it will be out of theaters by the end of March, so catch soon or stream it later.

A few big milestones to talk about: Game Night, the comedy murder-mystery earned $5.57 million (6th place), pushing the film over the $50 million mark with a new $54.1 million total. Just below in the 7th place position, Peter Rabbit banked $5.2 million, crossing the $100 million mark with $102.4 million. Down in 12th place, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle squeaked across the $400 million mark with a $1.65 million weekend and new $400.2 million total. It is only $3.4 million away from topping Spider-Man to become Sony's all-time highest-grossing film... but considering it is available on demand and will come out on Blu-Ray Tuesday, that may be one mark it will fall just short of. With $940 million worldwide, it is also Sony's second-biggest global earner ever.

Black Panther had already faced A Wrinkle in Time and Tomb Raider and come out on top - but will Pacific Rim Uprising finally be able to topple it? If not, there is also the animated Sherlock Gnomes, the horror Unsane, the biblical Paul, Apostle of Christ and the romance Midnight Sun to contend with.

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