This weekend marks a momentous occasion, as Prince T'Challa will be named the new king and protector of Wakanda after the death of his father in Black Panther. Still, that's just one big event in a movie filled with major plot twists, Oscar-winning actors, and breathtaking set pieces. The staggering scale of Marvel Studios' 18th feature wasn't by happenstance. Speaking to Vulture, studio head Kevin Feige revealed that director Ryan Coogler and his team were given a bigger budget compared with recent MCU films so they could fully realize the technologically advanced nation of Wakanda, among many storytelling ambitions.
“I hope you can tell from watching the movie, but the resources devoted to this movie are equal to and in fact surpass our last couple of movies,” he said.
For some context, Black Panther reportedly had $200 million to work with, whereas movies like Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok supposedly came in at around $170 million.
“It’s a big story that deserves to be told in a big way, for all of the cultural and political reasons that people talk about, but also because it’s such a key corner of our Marvel universe, and has been for decades and decades,” Feige continued, adding that the studio "wanted to do it justice.”
The move will no doubt pay off: The movie is currently expected to gross an incredible $170 million during its opening weekend. It's also been shattering Fandango records for online pre-purchase sales. Early reviews hail Black Panther as the best Marvel movie yet, and the film currently holds a near-perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Feige recounted how heavy hitters like Lupita Nyong’o and Forest Whitaker — both Oscar winners — had agreed to join the cast two years ago, before a script was even written. "We don’t take that for granted, that kind of trust that people put in us when they sign on to a movie that doesn’t exist yet," he said.
Black Panther opens in theaters Friday.