FASSA SAR WRITES – “Black Panther” tops box offices, at this point running ahead of “Avatar,” the Star Wars franchise, “Jumanji” and countless other titles in sales.

There is an old standing conception that mass audiences do not want to see black narratives with a majority black cast. In order for a story like “Black Panther” to do well, it must contain at least one white protagonist. However this myth is fast losing all credibility as Black Panther crosses the $1.1 Billion mark worldwide mid-march. Marvel’s hit movie starring Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan sold close to 65,947,800 tickets domestically alone.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that the Chinese market helped push “Black Panther” to $1 billion worldwide when it debuted on March 9 with a phenomenal $66.5 million opening weekend. It is among the top five launches for any superhero film in entertanment history. But you can’t stop to wonder why it did it so well with previous opposing opinions about black films. Some analysts believe that it is because the international publicity tour, which began in Seoul, South Korea, was wildly successful.

Others attribute the success to the fact that the world has been waiting for stories like this but have been blocked by studio giants. Industry analyst Rob Cain wrote in Forbes earlier this year, “It’s not that the Chinese film authorities actively discriminate against films with black actors. But a big part of their job is to import movies that will succeed at the local box office, and their experience and instincts tell them that such films haven’t typically been embraced by China’s moviegoers.”

Yet, it is difficult to draw these conclusions when the industry has made only a few attempts to release black films abroad. China has a different ethnic makeup from the U.S. — Han Chinese comprise of 92 percent of the population — and cultural attitudes toward diversity are more accepted and common in the U.S.

According to Think Progress “Racism and prejudice toward people of African descent exists in Chinese society, but it is distinct in form and history from racism in the United States. In fact, China’s engagement with both African and African-American culture, particularly pop culture, has often been contradictory.”

Surely, Marvel Studios contradicts all generalizations by creating an international success story, not just in Asia but also in Europe. We are now seeing Hollywood rules being broken. Jeff Bock, a senior analyst at entertainment industry tracker Exhibitor Relations, told the New York Times “I think about it like a wall crumbling,” Bock told the newspaper. “In terms of Black Panther, no studio can say again, ‘Oh, black movies don’t travel, overseas interest will be minimal’.’” With Black Panther setting a new precedent for commercial success, we will see more minority ethnic casts competing for revenue – and artistic success – at the box office.

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