Ryan Coogler Thanks 'Black Panther' Fans After Massive Opening Weekend

"Never in a million years did we imagine that you all would come out this strong," director says

Ryan Coogler thanked fans for supporting 'Black Panther' after the film earned rave reviews and posted massive opening weekend numbers. Credit: Karwai Tang/Getty

Director Ryan Coogler thanked Black Panther fans in a moving statement after the superhero blockbuster received a slew of rave reviews and posted staggering numbers at the box office during its opening weekend.

"Never in a million years did we imagine that you all would come out this strong," Coogler said via The Hollywood Reporter. "It still humbles me to think that people care enough to spend their money and time watching our film. But to see people of all backgrounds wearing clothing that celebrates their heritage, taking pictures next to our posters with their friends and family, and sometimes dancing in the lobbies of theaters – often moved me and my wife to tears."

Black Panther grossed a remarkable $242 million in its opening weekend, making it the second-highest four-day weekend opening behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While those numbers are staggering in and of themselves, they also helped stifle the long-held Hollywood myth that audiences are not interested in films rooted in black culture.

Coogler spoke to this in his letter, writing of his cast and crew, "Deep down we all hoped that people would come to see a film about a fictional country on the continent of Africa, made up of a cast of people of African descent."

He continued, "For the people who bought out theaters, who posted on social about how lit the film would be, bragged about our awesome cast, picked out outfits to wear, and who stood in line in theaters all over the world – all before seeing the film… And to the young ones, who came out with their parents, with their mentors, and with their friends. Thank you for giving our team of filmmakers the greatest gift: The opportunity to share this film, that we poured our hearts and souls into, with you."

In a recent Rolling Stone cover story, Coogler spoke about his desire to make not just a superhero film, but a distinctly black and African film. "We were making a film about what it means to be African," he said. "It was a spirit that we all brought to it, regardless of heritage. The code name for the project was Motherland, and that's what it was. We all went to school on Africa."

Ryan Coogler's Thank You Letter to Black Panther Fans

I am struggling to find the words to express my gratitude at this moment, but I will try.

Filmmaking is a team sport. And our team was made up amazing people from all over the world who believed in this story. Deep down we all hoped that people would come to see a film about a fictional country on the continent of Africa, made up of a cast of people of African descent.

Never in a million years did we imagine that you all would come out this strong. It still humbles me to think that people care enough to spend their money and time watching our film. But to see people of all backgrounds wearing clothing that celebrates their heritage, taking pictures next to our posters with their friends and family, and sometimes dancing in the lobbies of theaters – often moved me and my wife to tears.

For the people who bought out theaters, who posted on social about how lit the film would be, bragged about our awesome cast, picked out outfits to wear, and who stood in line in theaters all over the world – all before seeing the film…

To the press who wrote about the film for folks who hadn't yet seen it, and encouraged audiences to come out…

And to the young ones, who came out with their parents, with their mentors, and with their friends…

Thank you for giving our team of filmmakers the greatest gift: The opportunity to share this film, that we poured our hearts and souls into, with you.

Sincerely,

Ryan Coogler

P.S. Wakanda Forever