Black moviegoers have turned the February 16 theatrical debut of “Black Panther” into a cinematic event like no other. A new report, published by The Associated Press yesterday (January 4), highlights the ways that Black community organizations and individuals have built momentum around the Ryan Coogler-directed superhero film.
Georgetown University media scholar Christopher Chambers explained to The AP that “Black Panther,” unlike “Blade” or other successful Black superhero movies before it, benefits from social media excitement that amplifies the film’s visibility and themes.
“[In] this age of convergence of film franchises with social media, a Black superhero movie with an almost all-Black cast conveys power, [and the sense] that we have arrived,” Chambers explained. “It’s evolution.”
The AP notes that this energy, particularly from Black Twitter users, turned “Black Panther” into the ninth most-tweeted-about movie of 2017. In addition, it is the only of last year’s 10 highest-tweeted films that didn’t come out in 2017.
That enthusiasm carries offline as well. The AP reports that community organizations as varied as MALIK Fraternity, Inc., a nationwide collegiate fraternity for Black men, and Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, a Baltimore-based grassroots advocacy group, will host their own screenings and discussions during the opening weekend. And Eventbrite is full of screenings hosted by collegiate and alumna chapters of organizations in the National Pan-Hellenic Council, from Alpha Phi Alpha to Delta Sigma Theta.