MIDTOWN, Manhattan -- It seems like every superhero movie comes with a certain degree of buzz, but what's happening at box offices this week is more than just hype.
With pre-sold tickets and bought-out theaters, "Black Panther" is already a blockbuster and a major cultural phenomenon set to debut with the highest take ever for a movie opening on President's Day weekend.
In fact, the estimates of how much it will make have been revised upwards in recent days to $170 million, all of which increased the excitement at the film's New York premiere at The Museum of Modern Art in Midtown Manhattan.
Among African Americans, "Black Panther" has been called the most eagerly anticipated movie in a quarter century. But Marvel's first black super hero has a truly universal appeal.
"Bank, baby, bank," is how "Good Morning America" Co-Host Robin Roberts put it, and that's one reason so many stars came to the Big Apple premiere.
Star Chadwick Boseman didn't even have to audition for his lead role.
"From the very beginning, when they first called me, I knew this was different," he said. "I didn't know it would be this cultural experience, this movie myth, this phenomenon."
Boseman plays T'Challa, the king of a hidden land called Wakanda, which he describes as "a highly technologically advanced nation on the continent of Africa."
A material known as Vibranium gives the people their prosperity and their ruler his strength. In the movie, the king tells his nemesis, "It's my responsibility to make sure Wakanda doesn't fall into the hands of people like you."
The king's antangonist, Killmonger, is played by Michael B. Jordan, who is originally from New Jersey and arranged for local kids to see "Black Panther" at a screening in his hometown of Newark.
Arriving back in Manhattan for the screening, he told me, "I feel proud, you know? This is where I come from, so to be able to bring them this movie that I feel so special about, this important film is truly like no other."
Lupita Nyong'o, who plays Boseman's love interest in the film, echoed Jordan's sentiments.
"This film is about embracing where you're from, you know, and identifying with your people in a celebratory way, not in a divisive way," she said.
"Black Panther" offers hope that greater diversity on screen can be a reality rather than a dream: a true movement rather than just a brief moment. The hope is that this movie will be such a big hit, others will be made with more diverse casts. This movie re-defines what a superhero movie can be, which is what makes it so exciting.
Excitement, expectations high at New York City 'Black Panther' premiere
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