Black Panther is the first big, bonafide hit of the new year. As of March 2, it has already passed $430 million in its first two weeks and is now approaching $800 million worldwide. It is expected to soon pass $600 million in North America, and more than $1 billion worldwide. So how did this film do it and also why is it being praised almost completely universally by critics? It had a brilliant marketing plan – one we can take some tips from and apply to our own business ideas.
Serve a community that isn’t often served
Black Panther took a cue from the highly lucrative Girls Trip and the lauded Get Out and saw that minority audiences want to see themselves reflected on screen. Scott Mendelso, a film industry expert, said of Black Panther and these other films, they are for a “depriving group or community of minority – a prime filet.”
They made the film a cultural event
Disney, the studio that produced the film, had so many associations with other events including a music component led by rapper Kendrick Lamar and a show at New York Fashion Week. Lamar’s album Black Panther: The Album debuted at No.1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. “The biggest thing for the campaign was really super-serving black moviegoers while also making it the broadest movie going event,” said Disney marketing executive Vice President Asad Ayaz. “This wasn’t just for our core Marvel fans. We went about making it feel like a cultural event.”
Change the narrative
In addition to having an amazing cast (Lupita Nyong’o, Chadwick Boseman, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira), costumes and set design, the film also presented a different kind of narrative. From Nerdist writer Maya Smith, “It’s a refreshing counterpoint to the dominant historical narrative that revolves around Africa’s misery and African countries’ “third-world” identity. That idea conveniently omits how historical policies–colonization, the slave trade, CIA-backed coups–and current policies–Western intervention, unfavorable trade relationships–limit African nations’ self-determination. Wakanda imagines the possibilities had Africa’s wealth not been stolen and its people enslaved. That Wakanda has developed on its own terms isn’t simply an escapist ideal, it’s an aspirational one.”