Black Panther and the Current State of Science Fiction Movie Marketing

It may seem like a rough patch, but it’s really the on-ramp to a new, inclusive reality

This past weekend Black Panther broke all sorts of records, becoming 1) only the fifth film with a $200m+ opening frame, 2) the best February opening weekend of all time, 3) the best non-summer opening weekend of all time, 4) the highest-grossing film both from a black director and with a largely black cast and 5) the rare example of a tentpole blockbuster whose audience isn’t predominantly Caucasian.

The movie received a substantial campaign that focused on director Ryan Coogler and how he worked to tell a story of the African and black experience. That was supported by a continued focus on not just star Chadwick Boseman but also Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o who play members of King T’Challa’s protective guard, frequent Coogler collaborator Michael B. Jordan and breakout star Letitia Wright, who plays the genius inventor of the technology of the fictional country of Wakanda.

Those were all important. Allowing Coogler to step into the spotlight continued Marvel Studios’ trend of allowing directors to act as more of the public face of the movie that began, really, last year with Thor: Ragnarok. And highlighting the members of the Dora Milaje took full advantage of the cultural moment we’re in right now, where women are reclaiming their agency.

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