Dropping just 33.8%, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther topped the box office for the fifth weekend in a row, becoming just the third film (in addition to Avatar and The Sixth Sense) to do so in the past 19  years.  Black Panther’s strong showing essentially buried Warner Bros. Tomb Raider reboot, relegating the Alicia Vikander-starring adventure film to a mediocre $23.5 million debut.  Even a surprisingly strong showing from the Christian-themed I Can Only Imagine couldn’t keep the box office from a major year-over-year 50% slide from the same frame last year when Disney’s Beauty and the Beast debuted with a mammoth $175 million.

Black Panther’s $27 million fifth frame pushed the film’s domestic box office total to $605.4 million.  Black Panther is only the seventh film to earn over $600 million at the box office (not taking into account ticket price inflation).  By this time next weekend Black Panther could well have surpassed The Avengers’ superhero record-setting total of $623 million.  Even adjusting for inflation Black Panther is now the number four superhero film of all time, trailing only the 2002 Spider-Man ($638 million adjusted), The Dark Knight ($684 million adjusted), and The Avengers ($706 million adjusted)—and remember that Black Panther is only one of these films to accomplish its box office feats in February and March!

Internationally Black Panther earned $30 million this weekend to bring its overseas total to $577.1 million and its global cumulative to $1.18 billion, passing Captain America: Civil War ($1.15 billion), and Minions ($1.6 billion) to move into fourteenth place all time (not adjusting for inflation).

Landing in second place was Warner Bros.’ Tomb Raider, a reboot of the early 2000s series with Alicia Vikander taking over the action movie heroics from Angelina Jolie.   The new Tomb Raider’s $23.3 million bow was actually less (when adjusted for inflation) than the 2003 Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, which opened with $21.8 million ($31.4 million adjusted), and a far cry from the 2001 Tomb Raider, which bowed with $47.7 million ($68.7 million adjusted).

While Tomb Raider’s North American debut was disappointing, the movie has earned $102.5 million overseas, with $41.1 million coming from its opening in China, which was almost twice as big as its North American bow.   The good news is that the film cost only $90 million to produce, which means it has a chance of breaking even, if it can keep its overseas momentum and perhaps catch a break here as the only action film with a female lead in the current marketplace.  The bad news is that Tomb Raider received only a mediocre “B” CinemaScore from opening weekend audiences that skewed male (56%) and older (68% over 25).

The surprise of the weekend was the Christian-themed I Can Only Imagine, which tells the story behind the creation of the most popular Christian rock song ever (MercyMe’s “I Can Only Imagine”), which was written by the band’s singer Bart Millard about his complicated relationship with his father.  Playing in just 1629 theaters, I Can Only Imagine earned $17 million, posting the best per venue average ($10,476) in the top ten.  The question is how well I Can Only Imagine will hold up as the other faith-themed movies debut in the run-up to Easter, starting with Paul, Apostle of Christ next weekend.  The good news is that I Can Only Imagine received a rare “A+” CinemaScore from opening weekend audiences, which skewed heavily female (67%) and older (80% over 35).

Weekend Box Office (Studio Estimates): March 16-18, 2018


Weekend Gross



Total Gross



Black Panther







Tomb Raider







I Can Only Imagine







A Wrinkle in Time







Love, Simon







Game Night







Peter Rabbit







Strangers: Prey at Night







Red Sparrow







Death Wish






Ana DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time dropped 50% as it fell to fourth place, earning an estimated $16.6 million and bringing its domestic total to $61 million.  So far there are few signs that this $102 million production will be able to make its money back, but Disney, which produced the film, can take the loss (and the Mouse House is also quite expert at squeezing the most post-theatrical money out of its properties).

Fifth place went to Greg (Green Lantern) Berlanti’s coming-of-age saga Love, Simon, which debuted with $11 million.  The good news here is that Love, Simon also received an “A+” CinemaScore from its audience, which skewed female (58%), but younger with just 41% of the crowd over 25.

The only news of note from the bottom half of the top ten concerns the R-rated comedy Game Night continues to perform well as it dropped just 29.2% in its fourth weekend as it earned $5.6 million to bring its domestic total to $54.2 million, and Sony’s animated/live action hybrid Peter Rabbit, which passed the $100 million mark in its sixth week of release.  It should be interesting to see what happens when Peter Rabbit faces direct competition next weekend from the animated Sherlock Gnomes.

Opening outside the top ten was the docudrama 7 Days in Entebbe, which posted a weak $1,903 per theater average from about 800 venues.

Do extremely well in limited release, where it posted the best per-venue average of the week ($18,143) from 32 theaters, is the strangest comic book-based movie in years, the political satire, The Death of Stalin, which is based on the French graphic novel La Mort de Staline, and directed by Armano Iannucci, the creator of the HBO hit series Veep.

Be sure to check back here next week when Universal sends Pacific Rim: Uprising storming into 3,700 theaters, Paramount opens the animated Sherlock Gnomes on 3,500 screens, Open Road debuts the romantic drama Midnight Sun in 2000 venues, and Sony sends Paul, Apostle of Christ into 1,400.