The pessimistic and optimistic cash forecast

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We’re just over three weeks away from Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole’s MCU sequel. This does not necessarily have to be a prediction. When you’re dealing with a movie this big, there’s almost too much wiggle room. Well, just for fun and research purposes, I’m going to offer the likely “pessimistic” and “optimistic” scenarios with a couple of “realistic” scenarios for the highly anticipated sequel. Neither of these outcomes will be terribly unfortunate as it’s not like the film is going to bomb. So that’s also a matter of expectation management, just in case it just makes “the vast majority of the money” rather than “all the money.” I wanted to rank the numbers as playing like a traditional sequel, a lower-level MCU successor (in terms of stepping up over its predecessor), a higher-level MCU entry, and a true breakout sequel to a breakout predecessor .

Oh no, Black Panther 2 is just a regular sequel.

Assuming decent reviews and enthusiasm, there’s still a chance Wakanda forever could just play as a conventional successful sequel to a popular original. Let’s say admiration for the Oscar-winning (and $1.36 billion in sales) predecessor is slightly exaggerated in terms of online chatter that matches real-world interest. Maybe the first Black Panther was a multi-generational unique event as it was the first MCU film to focus on a black superhero and pre-release interest Avengers: Infinity War. Let’s assume that the death of Chadwick Boseman makes the sequel less appealing, or at least less likely to spur repeat business from those who might want to cry in a theater just once instead of thrice for 161 minutes. Let’s say rising tribalism has made certain white viewers less likely to show up for a film that focuses on black women.

Jurassic world earned $652 million domestically on a record-breaking $208 million opening weekend. It earned $1.671 billion worldwide, including $227 million in China. Fallen Kingdom received fewer reviews but was perfectly fine, opening June 2018 at $148 million and growing to $417 million domestically and $1.308 billion worldwide. That includes $261 million in China, which would be about $441 million domestic and $950 million for China Wakanda forever. Many great sequels (Fate of the Furious, Attack of the Clones, The Last Jedi, It: chapter twoetc.) earned over/under 70% of their predecessors. Black Panther earned $700 million domestically and $1.346 billion worldwide. Assuming China and Russia are off the table, that’s $1.222 billion. if Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Grossing “only” 65-70% of its predecessor’s gross sales, excluding China and Russia, it will gross $460-490 million domestically and $795-855 million worldwide.

Oh well, Black Panther 2 is a minor MCU sequel.

There’s a class of sequels to popular originals that have earned a little less domestically and a little more abroad, for a global total that’s just over/under their blown-out predecessors. Think Star Trek Into Darkness ($467 million with a 3-D bump vs. $385 million)The Kingsman: The Golden Circle ($411 million vs. $414 million)Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows ($545 million vs $525 million)iron man 2 ($623 million vs. $585 million) and The Dark Knight rises ($1.084 billion vs. $1.004 billion thanks to $53 million in China). This applies doubly if a franchise starter (Star Trek, The Force Awakens, Wonder Woman, Black Panther) outperforms in North America, but plays closer to the “normal” game overseas. Even Avengers: Age of Ultron earned $459 million domestically and $1.405 billion worldwide, compared to $623 million/$1.515 billion for The Avengers. That was the start of a year-long discourse on “superhero fatigue.”

Assume Black Panther: Wakanda Forever plays like Iron Man 2, Avengers: Age of Ultron or Ant Man and the Wasp (which took China’s $125 million gross to reach $600 million globally), in terms of the jumps from part one to part two. All three made more worldwide than their respective predecessors and nobody should have complained about that age of ultron “only” earned 94% of its predecessor’s worldwide gross income. 94% of $1.222 billion is still $1.13 billion, tied with Spider-Man: Far From Home Aquaman, Captain Marvel and what Doctor Strange 2 would have deserved had it played in China and Russia under the pre-Covid circumstances. However, 26% will be domestically over $700 million, ironically essentially $515 million The Rise of Skywalker. A run like iron man 2 ($312 million versus $318 million domestically). Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (again excluding China and Russia) $686 million domestic and $1.308 billion.

Oh good, Black Panther 2 is a “normal” MCU breakout sequel.

A key to Marvel’s success is how they’ve perfected the breakout sequel. A breakout sequel is where a popular franchise starter soars in popularity past its opening weekend and theatrical release, and the well-deserved goodwill for the sequel explodes. Think spontaneously of the sold-out opening weekends for The Dark Knight, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, X2: X-Men United, Scream 2, Pitch Perfect 2, John Wick: Chapter 2 and Deadly weapon 2. movies like Thor: The Dark World earn 13% more domestically and 43% more globally than Thor would be a massive asset for any other franchise, but is par for the course for the MCU. See also: Iron Man 3 ($1.215 billion) doubling iron man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier Jump from $376 million to $714 million and Doctor Strange 2 earn 77% more domestically and 41% more globally (even excluding China or Russia) than Doctor Strange.

if Wakanda forever plays like a conventional MCU breakout sequel, let’s do some math. Thor: The Dark World (+13%) and an overseas recovery (excluding China and Russia, just in case) on par Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (+4%) would still gross the film $791 million and $1.336 billion. The last example is helpful because Guardians of the Galaxy is another MCU trait that has been popular and loved even by those who weren’t otherwise big fans of the MCU. That is Wakanda forever in short. That Black Panther Franchise also plays for people who otherwise never cared about Marvel and/or got off the train afterwards Avengers: Endgame. A home jump at eye level Spider-Man: Far From Home (+5% off homecoming without China) brings Wakanda forever to $817 million domestically and $1.417 billion worldwide. However, this film was sold as an epilogue endgame.

Oh God, Black Panther 2 makes James Cameron sweat!

Let’s assume everything goes right. Wakanda forever Debuts to rave reviews and white-hot buzz, with the film both as Black Panther Sequel and (relatively speaking) a farewell to Chadwick Boseman in a way that makes it both moving and entertaining. Boseman’s death makes it an even bigger deal than it would have otherwise, although it’s closer to Health Ledger’s The dark knight or Carrie Fisher’s The Last Jedi as Paul Walkers angry 7. Rediscovered four years after debut ($104 million in DVD and Blu sales, making it the most-watched film on Netflix
NFLX
in 2018 etc.) has only strengthened the fandom. Most of the other concerns (increased tribal racism, people claiming it makes them too sad to watch, MCU burnout, etc.) are mostly confined to being constantly online. It can be a breakout sequel to a breakout original.

Calculating for sky-high earnings is almost random. But a leap at eye level Thor: The Dark World, which is up 13% domestically but 63% overseas Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to a global gross at eye level Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s $1.91 billion. A jump on par with Captain America: The Winter Soldier (from $176 million domestic and $371 million worldwide to $259/$714 million). Black Panther 2 $1.03 billion domestically and $2.59 billion globally, which is A) highly unlikely and B) still less avatar back in 2009/2010. Speaking of which, everything from the last few paragraphs would suggest so Wakanda forever and The way of the water would complement each other rather than limit each other’s box office potential. After all, the only thing better than going back to Pandora or Wakanda is doing both in the same day.

Final Thoughts

These scenarios are not exact predictions. I have argued on record that I am arguing a little closer to the best-case scenario in North America, which is why Wakanda forever surpasses Top Gun: Maverick ($716 million and counting) and Avatar: The Way of Water domestically during avatar 2 (which could be massive in China) rules worldwide. However, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever can still be a hit (especially if it gets good reviews and strong word of mouth from paying moviegoers), even if it doesn’t scale to infinity and beyond. Chadwick Boseman’s death, making the film even more of a non-movie event (along with some mystery as to who will be the next Black Panther), makes this completely unprecedented in franchise history. Black Panther was such a unique phenomenon that it can only possibly go down. As always, we’ll see.

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