While most headlines over the last weekend focussed on the $63 million opening Marvel’s Black Panther had in China - the world’s second biggest movie market - a new report by Quartz points out that the film hasn’t been as widely adored as it was in the West, suggesting that the insular Middle Kingdom’s racism might be to blame.
Black Panther has scored a 6.8 rating on Douban, an IMDb-like website in China. The Quartz report says that almost half of similar science-fiction and action movies have a better rating. Meanwhile, the film is the best rated movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Rotten Tomatoes, currently settling in with a 97% score.
The report links several user reviews to the film, which border on overt racism. One person had to pinch himself 10 times to stay awake “Black Panther is black, all the major characters are black, a lot of scenes are black, the car-chasing scene is black—the blackness has really made me drowsy.”
Another person felt that Marvel was trying too hard to politically correct. “Maybe the Chinese are still not used to a film full of black people,” he said.
One person who arrived late to the theatre was not prepared for what he was about to see. “When I entered the theatre, a bunch of black people was fighting in the night… I’ve never been in a theatre so dark that I couldn’t find my seat,” he said.
Another reviewer blamed the 3D. “The film is filled with black actors and actresses. Also, because the film’s colours are a bit dark, it’s nearly a torture for the eyes to watch the film’s 3D version in the theatre,” he said.
China is fast emerging as a growing market for films, with some experts predicting that China will soon overtake the US as the world’s biggest market. Recently, both Aamir Khan and Salman Khan have experienced great success in the region, with Aamir’s Dangal and Secret Superstar earning millions. Salman’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan opened to a stellar Rs 56 crore in its first weekend.
Black Panther recently crossed the coveted $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office, becoming the fifth Marvel movie to achieve the milestone. It has also made over Rs 50 crore in India.