Black Panther conquers the box office, sets sights on theme parks

February 19, 2018, 3:21 PM · Black Panther is crushing it at the box office this week, so of course Disney is rolling out its hottest Marvel superhero to meet fans at one of its theme parks.

Starting today, fans can meet Wakanda's T'Challa, aka Black Panther, in the Hollywood Land Backlot in Disney California Adventure. In theaters, Black Panther is looking at a $200 million-plus opening holiday weekend in the United States and grossing more than $400 million worldwide, making it the second-biggest MCU opening ever (behind The Avengers) and the fifth-biggest domestic movie opening of all time.

So, yeah, it's a hit.

Black Panther is accompanied in park for his meet and greet with his royal guards, the the Dora Milaje. But of course the success of this addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to get fans wondering how this new franchise might accompany whatever else Disney has planned for its Disney California Adventure Marvel land... whenever Disney gets around to officially starting that project. Guardians of the Galaxy already took over Tower of Terror and various Marvel characters have been greeting fans in the adjacent Hollywood Land, which is widely tipped to become the new Marvel land... at some point. But Wakanda offers some amazing place-making potential in addition to the usual generic urban setting of the MCU, so that's going to get armchair Imagineers' imaginations racing.

As of this point, there's no sign of Black Panther at Walt Disney World. Although Black Panther is not one of the characters featured in Universal Orlando's Marvel Super Hero Island, his traditional association with The Avengers character family might leave him off limits to Disney's use in Florida, due to Marvel's perpetual contract with Universal in that market. But several insiders have said that Disney and Universal came to an explicit understanding as to which Marvel characters Disney could and could not use at Walt Disney World before Disney announced Epcot's Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster, so if there's any chance of Black Panther being able to appear at Disney World, that legal agreement already would be in place. And if it isn't... Black Panther ain't coming there, ever. We will see.

Replies (15)

February 19, 2018 at 6:15 PM · This is the fastest rollout of theme park characters ever. They usually wait months until the movie closed at the box office. I wonder why they couldn't wait. I did not see the movie yet. I probably will wait another week to see it.
February 19, 2018 at 3:31 PM · I saw the mini-procession at the park yesterday (which I assume follows the end of the meet and greet) and the reaction was (as everything else Black Panther related has been) very, very good. This doesn't seem to be a flash in the pan, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Disney make a move in California to embrace this character in one way or another.
February 19, 2018 at 4:19 PM · This was super fast....I’m guessing they wanted to quickly capitalize on the current popularity while its hot (not that it will die down, but this is peak Panther fandom....) Technically, there’s probably not a better time to incorporate the character, but I’m assuming since the costumes & cast members were ready for the roll out, they were already planning on introducing the character to the park at some point.

Plus, there’s only 2 months before Infinity War.....so I’m sure they’ll be adding even more to this.

February 19, 2018 at 10:20 PM · It really would be a terrific idea to them the Marvel Land at DCU to Wakanda. Because then you could have an Animal Kingdom kind of vibe to something at Disneyland in that you could have the gorgeous African art and different foods. So you would get both a Marvel themed land AND a land with Africa theming and exotic foods. Two birds, one stone. And it would be SO MUCH BETTER than just having a generic cityscape be the Marvel land. Theming it to Wakanda would be fabulous.
February 20, 2018 at 12:39 AM · When did they announced Marvel Land at DCA? Any theories as to the reason for the delay?
February 20, 2018 at 1:17 AM · Finally a theme park responds in a timely manner!!! I know it's only a meet and greet but so many times there is IP that sits for years before it gets put into a theme park! I understand building a land, ride, or show takes millions of dollars so a company would really want to make sure the IP was a hit but so many opportunities go by the wayside because things don't get greenlit and they are then forgotten in the current times. A meet and greet is a perfect example of getting the IP out when there is prime exposure with only minor expense if it tanks. This should be a standard for most movies Disney or Universal releases that character meet and greets make sense for. I thought Universal was gonna be ahead of the curve with the rumored Secret Llife of Pets ride but that has yet to happen. I saw Black Panther last night and thought it was really good. This was my first time really worrying that I wouldn't like an MCU movie cause it looked to futuristic for being on earth but Marvel did well IMO overall. Way to get the IP out to the people while the popularity is at its peak!
February 20, 2018 at 7:05 AM · I think the difference this time was that Disney and Marvel had really good advanced data on the anticipated popularity of Black Panther. Also with the increase in movie goers purchasing advanced tickets online, it was clear that Black Panther was going to be a HUGE hit over a month ago.

Disney is being very smart here by rolling T'Challa out in such a public way (a lot of times Disney will roll out new character meet and greets without announcing them to gauge guest reaction when they happen to see the character appear in the park), because it attracts a powerful demographic Disney (and many other entertainment companies) have ignored for decades. If Tyler Perry has taught Hollywood anything, it's to never underestimate the black audience, and Disney is the latest company to take advantage of this under-served market. By making Black Panther's presence in the parks so public and piggy-backing immediately upon the immense success of the movie, it's clear Disney is trying to hit this demographic (they tried with Princess Tiana, but The Princess and the Frog was not quite as pop culture-defining as Black Panther - further linked to the demographic through Kendrick Lamar's curated movie soundtrack).

Disney is capitalizing on the cultural phenomenon, but hopefully it's not the end and that future movies like this targeted at specific demographics are not just copy cats or only provide lip service for those audiences. That's what differentiates Black Panther with director Ryan Coogler not only presenting iconic African imaging and styling, but also giving audiences a very real look into current events and topics that those of African descent deal with on a daily basis. Marvel/Disney allowed Coogler to tell a very poignant story that resonates with the target audience and fits nicely within the MCU while still being independent enough to be enjoyed and related to as a self-contained movie. Disney's piggybacking with character appearances is a clear attempt to strike while the iron is hot. Hopefully Disney/Marvell will keep that iron hot.

February 20, 2018 at 10:32 AM · The benefit of the main character being a fully masked persona, able to get him out for meet and greets and play the part easily. Again, the movie is...amazing. I loved how they play on Wakanda looking down on others because they're a century ahead in technology and not getting how bad that attitude is. Killmonger may be the best villain of the MCU as you feel for him and see how, had it gone differently, he might have been a hero in his own right.

Plus, loved how Martin Freeman's character isn't "the token white guy" who's made to look a fool but really smart and even helps out majorly. It really is one of Marvel's best efforts so no shock they want to ride that momentum in the parks and do a great job.

February 20, 2018 at 10:37 AM · Just watching videos, looks good as the "guards" do some mini-shows of their spears before the Panther rides out on a jeep. The meet and greet looks good (Panther even mimicking the accent talking to people) so it looks like another there's going to be another major meet and greet line at the park.
February 20, 2018 at 10:42 AM · Kudos to Russell for putting it so well!
February 20, 2018 at 4:32 PM · @MikeW - point of order. I saw somewhere on line that the only two Caucasian actors in Black Panther are Martin Freeman who played The Hobbit in The Hobbit and Andy Serkis who played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films... so in realty they are the "Tolkien White Guys" LOL!
February 21, 2018 at 3:46 AM · Wakanda would be a really cool area. Maybe they were planning on turning the Hollywood area into New York fairly easily, but Wakanda would be so much more interesting. I would think the Vibranium Mine/Shuri's lab would make a cool ride. When I saw the movie I was wishing that I could go to Wakanda, and I didn't really feel that way about Asgard for example.
February 21, 2018 at 11:18 AM · Rob, yeah seen that joke a few other places but still funny.
February 22, 2018 at 12:22 PM · Suddenly wondering if Wakanda might be something to play with in Animal Kingdom. Makes sense, redo a jungle area or that train ride and you can easily imagine some sort of attraction as a "visitor tour" of the country. I know, might be a bit too close to Avatar but would be interesting.
February 26, 2018 at 1:43 PM · They should do a Marvel land as the 5th theme park in Disney World, they have NO room or acres to build on in Disney Land, nothing. I know there is that thing that Universal Orlando has the "rights" to any Marvel attractions in the Orlando territory. But it's Disney, right? I'm sure they could find a way around that $$$ lol.

Could you imagine, MARVEL theme Park in Orlando.

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