`Black Panther' Opens With 1,000 Parties Around the Country

(Bloomberg) -- “Black Panther” opened in theaters on Thursday, and moviegoers are ready.

There are close to 1,000 premiere-related functions planned for February, according to Eventbrite Inc., which runs an online platform that allows people to create, organize and promote gatherings. “Wonder Woman,” the last superhero blockbuster, inspired about 100 events on the platform.

Eighty percent of the “Black Panther” screenings, after parties and panel discussions are scheduled for this weekend, according to the company, and some organizers said they expect more than 500 people to attend. The point isn’t just about fandom, many organizers said: They hope a big presence on opening weekend will show Hollywood that fans are enthusiastic about seeing movies made by and starring African-Americans.

“Black Panther” took in an estimated $25.2 million in its Thursday evening previews, making it the most successful February movie preview, according to Walt Disney Co. “Deadpool,” the previous record holder, generated a little more than $12 million in previews. “Black Panther” has also become the second-biggest grossing preview for a Marvel title, behind the 2015 release of “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

“This experience has demonstrated that there’s a real appetite for more stories like this in Hollywood,” said Makiah Green, co-founder of Black Book LA, a networking organization for African-American millennials in Los Angeles. “I hope it starts a wave of more varied stories that document the black experience, not just in the historic sense, but in the future or in the contemporary.”

Red Carpet

Black Book LA is part of a wide range of organizations, including church auxiliaries, fraternities and running groups, that used Eventbrite to promote outings ahead of the film’s release. Some encouraged attendees to wear traditional African garb or dress in all black. At a few screenings, attendees were greeted with a mini red carpet and a step-and-repeat for photos.

Green said she wanted to give her subscribers the chance to experience the movie together. Tickets sold out in an hour, and with another L.A. organization the groups added a second screening room.

About 500 people -- who are encouraged to wear their “most elegant Wakanda-inspired attire” according to the invitation -- will head to a Cinemark theater near Ladera Heights on Friday evening.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.