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New in Theaters February 16: Black Panther, Early Man, Samson

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By Chris Kavan - 02/15/18 at 06:45 AM CT

The wait is over as we welcome Marvel's latest and greatest, Black Panther. Call it buzz, call it hype, but it looks as if Black Panther is not only going to live up to early expectations, but, quite possibly, blow them away. Surprisingly it will face competition in the form of the claymation animated film Early Man as well as the latest biblical epic in Samson. Neither are likely going to make much of a dent in what is sure to be a huge opening weekend for Black Panther. And it remains to be seen what impact Marvel's Juggernaut has against the long-time winners Jumanji and The Greatest Showman. One this is for certain, after a few down weekends, this is going to be a big win for 2018.

BLACK PANTHER The questions isn't if Black Panther is going to open big, but how big Black Panther is going to open. Ever since the character was introduced in Captain America: Civil War, hype has been building for this solo film. Director Ryan Coogler has essentially built a whose-who in a cast the figures to be largely African-American - from powerhouse actors like Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett to current zeitgeist-capturing actors in Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Sterling K. Brown (This is Us, American Crime Story) and Lupita Nyong'o (Star Wars, 12 Years a Slave). With Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordon facing off as the yin and yang of the film, Black Panther has everything going for it. It also doesn't shy away from strong, female characters - which, considering the current MeToo movement, will only work in its favor. Besides the aforementioned actresses, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright are also on hand. Martin Freeman, as agent Everett K. Ross and Andy Serkis as the devious Ulysses Klaue round out the frankly impressive cast. If that wasn't enough, the film also has a kick-ass soundtrack featuring the likes of Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, Future and SZA. Considering the amount of hate and backlash Star Wars has received - I have to wonder if the strong black and/or female cast is going to face a similar amount of hate from certain sectors of the audience. But apart from some small-minded individuals, I have a feeling that Black Panther is going to turn out to be one of the most successful out of the Marvel films and, even if I'm going to wait a bit - I will be seeing this one in theaters.

EARLY MAN If Black Panther is little much for the youngest crowd, have no fear, families, Early Man is here. From Aardman Studios, the one behind Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Flushed Away, comes their next stop-motion animated film. The art of stop motion has been somewhat shoved aside in the age of CG and Pixar but Aardman and a few other brave studios continue this medium. Even if it's not as flashy or polished, it's still a great feat. Early Man follows the story of Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his pet pig, Hognob who must figure out how to unite his tribe when Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and his Bronze Age city threatens their way of life. The film also features the voices of Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall, Richard Ayoade, Miriam Margolyes and Rob Brydon among others. Given its kid-friendly PG rating, this is obviously aiming at families - and it may be its saving grace. Black Panther is clearly aimed at a young adult and above while Jumanji and The Greatest Showman have been out for awhile. Early Man will benefit from that, but it remains to be seen by how much.

SAMSON Another film with a built-in audience is the biblical story Samson. The film looks like it will be a faithful adaptation of the Bible story of Samson and Delilah (which has been done before) and considering Pure Flix (God's Not Dead) is behind it, it will also probably be preachy and condescending as well. That's not going to hurt its core, Christian audience, but as the film also features almost no big name stars (Billy Zane and Rutger Hauer are about the best you're going to find) , it's not going to impress general audiences. I don't see this placing high in the top 10 (if it reaches that mark at all) and is most likely going to be a footnote over the weekend.

This weekend is going to belong to Black Panther, hands down, and come Sunday we'll find out just how big Marvel's next film is going to open.


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