– by David Kozlowski

Marvel’s Black Panther is a massive success that transcends ticket sales and packed theaters. It’s also a legitimate cultural moment, which corporate parent Disney expects to translate into a long-term franchise, including all kinds of ancillary products and content. That might sound cynical, but really it’s just smart business… and Disney knows how to capitalize on an opportunity.

The film has earned over $700 million worldwide since its release on February 16, blowing past one or more records almost every day. But it’s not just how many tickets have been (and will be) sold, it’s who’s buying them.

Related – Black Panther Hits $100M In Second Weekend, Fends Off Game Night & Annihilation

Deadline reported that a significant number of advance Black Panther tickets were bought by churches, youth groups, fraternities, sororities, and student groups to “celebrate the first major Black ensemble blockbuster on screen.” CNN posted an extraordinary video of students from the acclaimed Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta laughing, cheering, and actually dancing on their desks and chairs upon learning they were going to attend a showing of the film.

I don’t recall such broad public enthusiasm for Deadpool or Suicide Squad, although those films certainly made giant piles of money. Disney CEO, Bob Iger, recently spoke at the annual Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, where he discussed a broad range of entertainment topics, including Black Panther, according to Yahoo:

“I pretty much guarantee you around Halloween, you’re going to be seeing a lot of Black Panther merchandise on the marketplace.”

That’s less of a prediction than a promise, as Disney can pull any number of marketing and ancillary product levers to keep Black Panther in the public eye.

Iger noted, as reported by ComingSoon, that at Disneyland the wait to take a photo with Black Panther was an hour long. And just yesterday Disney announced an initiative to donate $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of American to help launch a yourth STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Center of Innovation in Oakland, California — mirroring a key moment in the film.

Iger explained the Disney rationale:

“Marvel Studios’ Black Panther is a masterpiece of movie making and has become an instant cultural phenomenon, sparking discussion, inspiring people young and old, and breaking down age-old industry myths.”

Regardless of how you view these moves by Disney, there’s no debating the impact of Black Panther on our culture. This is a franchise that’s here to stay, and Disney plans to invest in all things Wakanda to make it so. If kids and families and support organizations can also benefit, so much the better. Wakanda Forever!

How big do you think the Black Panther franchise can become? Let us know in the comments down below!

Don’t forget to share this post on your Facebook wall and with your Twitter followers! Just hit the buttons on the top of this page.

SOURCE: Yahoo , Deadline , ComingSoon , CNN

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.