The Walt Disney Company DIS saw shares hit 52-week lows last week after reporting fourth-quarter financial results. Could the strong box office performance of Marvel hit “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” help boost the stock?
What Happened: The highly anticipated sequel to the 2018 hit Marvel movie “Black Panther” was released in theaters over the weekend and, as expected, topped the charts. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” grossed $180 million domestically and $330 million globally in its debut weekend.
The Marvel movie grossed $84 million on Friday, $56.5 million on Saturday and $39.5 million on Sunday, according to estimates from Variety.
Estimates for the movie saw the sequel grossing $325 million globally and a range of $155 million to $195 million domestically, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The sequel broke the record for the biggest November opening in North America, surpassing the $158 million gross of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” in 2013. The sequel also is the second-biggest domestic opening of 2022, trailing only the $187.4 million from Disney’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” has the third-best opening weekend domestically, trailing only the Doctor Strange movie and another Marvel-related title in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” from Sony Group Corp SONY at $260 million.
The original Black Panther was released in 2018 and had an opening weekend box office of $202 million. The movie went on to gross $700.4 million domestically and $1.35 billion worldwide.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” has a 7.4 rating on IMDb, currently better than the 7.3 rating for the first movie in the franchise. The sequel has ratings of 84% from critics and 95% from the audience, compared to 96% and 79% respectively for the first movie on Rotten Tomatoes. Strong ratings and reviews could help the movie continue to do well in the coming weeks.
Why It’s Important: The opening of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” could be good news for Disney at just the right time. Shares of the media company hit new 52-week lows last week after third-quarter financial results that saw the media division disappoint and continued losses for the Disney+ streaming business.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek praised the sequel and its strong advance ticket sales on the company’s recent earnings call.
Disney could have an incredibly strong first fiscal quarter and end of the calendar year with “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” among the releases. The animated movie “Strange World” will release on Nov. 23, during the typically strong Thanksgiving Day weekend.
The media giant also could have a strong 2023 calendar year, with several big blockbusters added into the recently started fiscal year.
Among the 2023 releases are “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Haunted Mansion,” “The Marvels,” “Elemental” and a fifth Indiana Jones movie.
The strong performance of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” could also be good news for movie theater companies like AMC Entertainment Holdings AMC.
“Disney saves the box office,” Exhibitor Relations Analyst Jeff Bock said, as reported by Variety. “What else is new? This is exactly what they were doing before the pandemic, during the pandemic and after the pandemic.”
AMC CEO Adam Aron has been telling investors and movie lovers that the third quarter of the calendar would be lighter, but would then be followed by a fourth quarter full of blockbusters.
“Our recovery continues, and we look forward with enthusiasm to a return to a more robust film slate in the fourth quarter of 2022, which has already started strong with the release of ‘Black Adam,’” Aron said in the company’s recent earnings report.
Aron highlighted “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” as two of the biggest releases in the fourth quarter.
Both Disney and AMC could see shares in the spotlight to start the week with the strong performance of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” The strong box office comes after both companies saw shares fall after their quarterly financial results.
DIS Price Action: Disney shares were up 5% to $95.01 on Friday, versus a 52-week range of $86.28 to $160.72. Shares are down 39% year-to-date in 2022.
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