‘Black Panther’ Scorches Box Office Records, Sets the Bar for 2018 and Beyond

Check out the records for “Black Panther.”

Marvel’s “Black Panther” (Disney) arrived with a record-breaking bang at the 2018 box office, outperforming pre-opening estimates for its three day U.S./Canada opening.

Check out its all-time records: “Black Panther” bests “Deadpool” by more than $50 million as the best February and pre-March opening weekends ever. It tops last year’s “Beauty and the Beast” as the best pre-May debut of all time. It nearly doubles “Furious 7” as the best opening for a black-directed film. It is triple the best previous record (held by “Straight Outta Compton”) for initial weekend of a film with a primarily black cast.

Those numbers will be re-counted when Sunday’s actual numbers are reported, plus the boost the movie will get from a four-day semi-holiday on Monday. And adjusting to an even playing field still leaves “Black Panther” remarkably (considering the month of release) among the ten best openers ever.

“Black Panther”

Ryan Coogler’s breakout film “Fruitvale Station” did well in limited release and commercial sequel “Creed” marked a decent wide release. But “Black Panther”‘s grosses are seismic and game-changing for the director. The movie is the biggest non-“Star Wars” opener since “Jurassic World” (with a prime June release date) nearly three years ago. Yes, “Black Panther” comes from within the lucrative comic book universe of adaptations, but by those high standards it ranks #4 (adjusted) after both “Avengers” films and “Spider-Man 3.”

There have been 13 Marvel or D.C. Comic book releases since “Avengers: Age of Ultron” opened to (an adjusted) $204 million in May, 2015. A majority have opened over $100 million (including similar game-changer “Wonder Woman.” But no comic book movie since (the best off-season opener “Batman v. Superman” opened to an adjusted $178 million, “Deadpool” $141 million), despite showcasing a who’s who of comic world characters (“Thor,” “X-Men,” “Spider-Man” and the ensemble in “Suicide Squad”) boasted the appeal of this long-overdue all-black cast of heroes and villains starring in an African myth.

The huge initial interest that propelled many fans to Thursday night and Friday shows likely account for a Saturday decline somewhat above some other recent Marvel and D.C. titles. The falloff was 13 per cent (from a higher starting point from most others) for its second full day from the initial totals. “Thor: Ragnarok” dropped  five per cent, “Wonder Woman” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” eight per cent.

But “The Avengers” also boasted an A+ CInemascore and dropped slightly more (14 per cent) on its initial Saturday on its way to a domestic total that was triple its opening (adjusted, its domestic total was just over $700 million).

Can “Black Panther” repeat that kind of long-term performance? There’s no way to judge after two days. The four-day totals will give a hint, but next weekend will be more key to assessing the future.

But even a standard ultimate showing (which would leave this somewhere around $500 million domestic – about 25 per cent above “Wonder Woman”) would change the rules about what American moviegoers want to see. “Black Panther” will elevate a wider range of stories, including Hollywood’s core big-budget action adventures. Yes, there has been a steady supply of black-centered releases going back to blaxploitation in the 1970s, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy lead the way in the 1980s and so on. But these often have come with non-minority creative control, and usually with lower budgets and compensation for many principles based on perceived economics.

"Black Panther"

“Black Panther”

The main excuse for not green-lighting similar films with the $300 million plus production and marketing costs expended on “Black Panther” is the resistance seen historically to black-centered films overseas. The foreign market for top-end productions (though not the “Star Wars” series) is expected to provide roughly two-thirds of the total gross for high end films. “Panther” debuted in a majority of the world, though not the key territories of China, Japan, or Russia yet.

The gross for these initial territories came in a little less than the domestic return ($169 million). What happens in the remainder of them will be important. But it would be reasonable at this point to anticipate at least $400 million overseas, along with at least that much (low end total) domestic. That would put the film at over $800 million worldwide. That total wouldn’t have placed it quite in the global Top Ten for 2017 (it would be about the same as the most recent “Pirates of the Caribbean,” which soared overseas and was similarly expensive). “Wonder Woman” did $812 million combined, with a similar domestic/foreign split. And it’s good enough, to put it mildly, even if the domestic share is higher than usual. It just might take longer for foreign to catch up.

The performance boosted year-to-date numbers, which had fallen below 2017 so far, to a boost of over five per cent (by the time different week day calendars balance out by midweek). “Panther” made up about two thirds of ticket sales (a lower total that the better than 75 per cent share “The Last Jedi” took in its pre-Christmas weekend.)

Early Man

Drowned out by the film was Nick Park’s Aardman animation “Early Man” (Lionsgate), which could only take in an anemic $3,150,000. It was hurt among kids by the draw of the second weekend of the less sophisticated “Peter Rabbit” (Sony), which managed as decent $17,500,000 and a 31 per cent drop.

“Fifty Shades Freed” (Universal), last week’s #1, dropped 56 per cent to fall behind “Early Man” slightly. Buried among the figures during the week though was the film’s dominance on Wednesday (Valentine’s Day). It grossed nearly $11 million, more than half of the day’s business as the clear film of choice to drag men to that night.

Long-running hits “Jumanji: Welcome to the Club” (Sony) and “The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox) both dropped around 20 per cent, a bit above their recent average but both amazing holds for films around since Christmas. But they needed company going forward, assuming that “Panther” has decent legs, since they can’t be expected to sustain theaters that much longer.

“Early Man”

The Top Ten

1. Black Panther (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A+; Metacritic: 88; Est. budget: $200 million

$192,023,000 in 4,020 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $47,767,000; Cumulative: $192,023,000

2. Peter Rabbit (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend: #2

$17,250,000 (-31%) in 3,725 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,631; Cumulative: $48,223,000

3. Fifty Shades Freed (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend: #1

$16,940,000 (-56%) in 3,768 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,496; Cumulative: $76,134,000

4. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony) Week 9; Last weekend: #

$7,945,000 (-21%) in 2,800 theaters (-336); PTA: $2,838; Cumulative: $377,624,000

5. 15:17 to Paris (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend: #

$7,685,000 (-39%) in 3,042 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,526; Cumulative: $25,433,000

6. The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox) Week 9; Last weekend: #5

$5,100,000 (-21%) in 1,936 theaters (-437); PTA: $2,634; Cumulative: $154,478,000

7. Early Man (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 68; Est. budget: $50 million

$3,150,000 in 2,494 theaters; PTA: $1,263; Cumulative: $3,150,000

8. Maze Runner: The Death Cure (20th Century Fox) Week 4; Last weekend: #6

$2,525,000 (-59%) in 1,891 theaters (-1,032); PTA: $1,335; Cumulative: $54,005,000

9. Winchester (Lionsgate) Week 3; Last weekend: #7

$2,230,000 (-57%) in 1,471 theaters (-1,001); PTA: $1,508; Cumulative: $21,860,000

10. Samson (Pureflix) NEW – Metacritic: 17; no budget estimate reported

$1,972,000 in 1,249 theaters; PTA: $1,579; Cumulative: $1,972,000

‘Black Panther’ Passes ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ With $192 Million 3-Day Opening

“Black Panther” is making box office history this weekend as its opening weekend estimates have risen to $192 million over three days and a whopping $218-222 million over the four-day President’s Day weekend.

If that result holds, “Black Panther” will pass “Avengers: Age of Ultron” for the fifth-highest box office opening of all-time, joining a top-five list that includes “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Jurassic World” and “The Avengers.”

Although the opening of “Avengers: Infinity War” in May is expected to push “Black Panther” out of the top five, it’s still an enormous moment not just for Marvel Studios, but for a rising trend of diverse filmmaking that has seen films like “Straight Outta Compton,” “Moonlight,” “Get Out” and “Wonder Woman” find critical and commercial success. In fact, if “Black Panther” can push the needle a bit more over Sunday and Monday, it could pass the $226 million four-day start set by the first “Avengers” back in 2012, making it the biggest four-day start ever for a superhero movie.

Also Read: ‘Black Panther’ Film Review: Supporting Players Steal Show in Marvel’s Excellent African Adventure

The full list of records “Black Panther” has broken is yet to be determined, but it already has some big ones under its belt. It has shattered the record for biggest February opening, previously held by “Deadpool” with $152 million. It has the biggest pre-summer opening weekend of all-time, beating the $174 million made last year by “Beauty and the Beast.” That $174 million mark was also the opening posted by “Iron Man 3” in 2013, making “Black Panther” the highest grossing superhero movie with a single hero. It also has the biggest start for a film with a black director, nearly doubling the $98.8 million start earned by F. Gary Gray’s “The Fate of the Furious” last year.

Critically, “Black Panther” has set marks, becoming the highest rated superhero film of all time on Rotten Tomatoes with a 97 percent score. It is also only the second Marvel film ever to earn the highest mark in CinemaScore audiences polls, joining “The Avengers” as one of only two films to earn an A+. Meanwhile, Fandango is reporting it is showing a significantly higher rate of repeat customers for “Black Panther” than it has seen for other superhero movies on an opening weekend.

Also Read: ‘Black Panther’: 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Marvel’s Latest Big-Screen Hero (Video)

As for the rest of the box office charts, second place will be taken by Sony’s “Peter Rabbit,” which is currently just barely ahead of Universal’s “Fifty Shades Freed” but is expected to pull away on Monday as it gets a boost from family audiences with kids on school break. The Beatrix Potter adaptation is estimated to make $17.25 million — down just 31 percent from its $25 million opening — with a four-day total of $22.1 million. That will bring the film’s total to $53 million.

“Fifty Shades Freed” will take third place with an $18.9 million four-day total, down 55 percent from its $38.5 million opening, bringing its domestic cume to $78 million and its global cume to $268.9 million. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is in fourth with $10 million over four days, bringing its total $379.6 million and making it the second-highest grossing film in Sony history behind only “Spider-Man.” “15:17 to Paris” completes the top five with $9 million over four days, which would give it a $26 million total.

Also Read: How ‘Black Panther’ Might Bust the Myth That Black-Led Blockbusters Don’t Play Overseas

In sixth is Fox’s “The Greatest Showman,” finally falling out of the top five in its ninth weekend in theaters, but not before it passes fellow musical “La La Land” on the domestic charts with an estimated $6 million weekend haul, bringing its domestic cume to $155 million compared to $151 million for “La La Land.”

Following “Greatest Showman” is one of two new releases this weekend, Lionsgate/Aardman’s “Early Man.” The latest stop-motion animated offering from the “Wallace & Gromit” studio is looking at a four-day total of $4.1 million from 2,494 screens, slightly below the $5-7 million projections set by independent trackers. The other new release is Pure Flix’s “Samson,” which opened on 1,249 screens and finished outside the Top 10 with an estimated $2.3 million.

More to come…

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Black Panther’: Activist Group Launches Black Voter Registration Effort at Film Screenings

44 Movies With A+ CinemaScore Since 2000, From ‘Remember the Titans’ to ‘Black Panther’ (Photos)

‘Black Panther’ Nabs A+ CinemaScore, First Superhero Movie Since ‘The Avengers’

“Black Panther” is making box office history this weekend as its opening weekend estimates have risen to $192 million over three days and a whopping $218-222 million over the four-day President’s Day weekend.

If that result holds, “Black Panther” will pass “Avengers: Age of Ultron” for the fifth-highest box office opening of all-time, joining a top-five list that includes “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Jurassic World” and “The Avengers.”

Although the opening of “Avengers: Infinity War” in May is expected to push “Black Panther” out of the top five, it’s still an enormous moment not just for Marvel Studios, but for a rising trend of diverse filmmaking that has seen films like “Straight Outta Compton,” “Moonlight,” “Get Out” and “Wonder Woman” find critical and commercial success. In fact, if “Black Panther” can push the needle a bit more over Sunday and Monday, it could pass the $226 million four-day start set by the first “Avengers” back in 2012, making it the biggest four-day start ever for a superhero movie.

The full list of records “Black Panther” has broken is yet to be determined, but it already has some big ones under its belt. It has shattered the record for biggest February opening, previously held by “Deadpool” with $152 million. It has the biggest pre-summer opening weekend of all-time, beating the $174 million made last year by “Beauty and the Beast.” That $174 million mark was also the opening posted by “Iron Man 3” in 2013, making “Black Panther” the highest grossing superhero movie with a single hero. It also has the biggest start for a film with a black director, nearly doubling the $98.8 million start earned by F. Gary Gray’s “The Fate of the Furious” last year.

Critically, “Black Panther” has set marks, becoming the highest rated superhero film of all time on Rotten Tomatoes with a 97 percent score. It is also only the second Marvel film ever to earn the highest mark in CinemaScore audiences polls, joining “The Avengers” as one of only two films to earn an A+. Meanwhile, Fandango is reporting it is showing a significantly higher rate of repeat customers for “Black Panther” than it has seen for other superhero movies on an opening weekend.

As for the rest of the box office charts, second place will be taken by Sony’s “Peter Rabbit,” which is currently just barely ahead of Universal’s “Fifty Shades Freed” but is expected to pull away on Monday as it gets a boost from family audiences with kids on school break. The Beatrix Potter adaptation is estimated to make $17.25 million — down just 31 percent from its $25 million opening — with a four-day total of $22.1 million. That will bring the film’s total to $53 million.

“Fifty Shades Freed” will take third place with an $18.9 million four-day total, down 55 percent from its $38.5 million opening, bringing its domestic cume to $78 million and its global cume to $268.9 million. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is in fourth with $10 million over four days, bringing its total $379.6 million and making it the second-highest grossing film in Sony history behind only “Spider-Man.” “15:17 to Paris” completes the top five with $9 million over four days, which would give it a $26 million total.

In sixth is Fox’s “The Greatest Showman,” finally falling out of the top five in its ninth weekend in theaters, but not before it passes fellow musical “La La Land” on the domestic charts with an estimated $6 million weekend haul, bringing its domestic cume to $155 million compared to $151 million for “La La Land.”

Following “Greatest Showman” is one of two new releases this weekend, Lionsgate/Aardman’s “Early Man.” The latest stop-motion animated offering from the “Wallace & Gromit” studio is looking at a four-day total of $4.1 million from 2,494 screens, slightly below the $5-7 million projections set by independent trackers. The other new release is Pure Flix’s “Samson,” which opened on 1,249 screens and finished outside the Top 10 with an estimated $2.3 million.

More to come…

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Black Panther': Activist Group Launches Black Voter Registration Effort at Film Screenings

44 Movies With A+ CinemaScore Since 2000, From 'Remember the Titans' to 'Black Panther' (Photos)

'Black Panther' Nabs A+ CinemaScore, First Superhero Movie Since 'The Avengers'

Aardman ‘Early Man’ Animators Used 273 Puppets (and 3,000 Mouths) to Bring Their Caveman Soccer Tale to Life

Nick Park returns to directing with a prehistoric, underdog sports movie that pushes stop-motion at the Bristol-based studio.

Animation

For Nick Park, it always begins with a drawing. On “Chicken Run” (2000), it was a chicken digging its way out of a coop with a shovel, which became a riff on “The Great Escape,” and on his latest, “Early Man,” it was cavemen kicking what would eventually become a soccer ball.

Thus began Aardman’s first prehistoric underdog sports movie in stop-motion, and Park’s first feature since the Oscar-winning “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” (2005). Only this time, he decided to direct solo without partner Peter Lord or animator Steve Box.

“Early Man”

“Cavemen are well covered now with ‘The Croods’ [which began at Aardman before DreamWorks took it over] and ‘The Flintstones,’ but I was looking for a quirky Aardman angle, and soccer became the hook,” said Park, who pitched “Early Man” as “Gladiator” meets “Dodgeball.”

“This could have legs: a group of idiotic, lovable cavemen who only know how to fight and use weapons, but the only way they can win back their Valley was to win a soccer match,” Park added. “I’d never seen a prehistoric underdog sports movie before and in the UK football, or soccer, is a religion, very tribal. And it seemed a good area to explore.”

Studying Underdog Sports Movies

Park looked at everything from “The Mighty Ducks” and “The Miracle” to “Slap Shot” and “Lagaan,” an Indian fave about a villager challenging the British Raj to a cricket match. But Park was at a loss for finding the underdog angle since cavemen invented soccer. So he came up with the idea of a prehistoric prologue (inspired by Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion work on “One Million Years B.C.”), in which the game was invented by their ancestors, but it’s been kept under wraps ever since because of a deep, dark secret.

“Early Man”

In “Early Man,” a pompous tyrant, Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston), forces the tribe to flee to the Badlands when he discovers bronze in their Valley. But Dug (Eddie Redmayne) challenges the Bronze Age foes to a soccer match to win back their Valley. “We needed football to have moved on and adopted by the Bronze Age people, who have corrupted the game through bronze and money, which is very much a comment on the modern game,” said Park.

And in Dug and his lovable hog, Hognob (voiced by Park), Park found the equivalent of Aardman’s iconic Wallace & Gromit. Not surprisingly, Hognob steals the movie when he’s forced to give Nooth a massage. In fact, that was one of the most difficult scenes, which took 18 months to perfect. “There’s a naive charm to them like Wallace & Gromit,” said Will Becher, the animation director.

Making Soccer Puppets

For the puppets to run and appropriate other soccer skills, Park designed them to be simple, chunky, and long-legged. “Early Man” required 273 puppets (including 18 for hero Dug), with 3,000 hand-crafted interchangeable mouths. “It was hard to pull off an exciting, cinematic game,” Park said. “‘Gladiator’ helped with action and crowd scenes. But the challenge was how to do soccer with stop-frame. We tested how they ran with the ball and added motion blur or sped up the animation to keep the dynamics.”

“Early Man”

Chris Johnson

But setting it almost entirely outdoors in the Valley, the Badlands, the Bronze Village, and the soccer stadium provided the greatest epic scope in Aardman history. “We did the stadium digitally apart from Lord Nooth’s throne and the corner gates, which were done practically,” said Merlin Crossingham, co-animation director. “We couldn’t do all the puppets so we did the crowd digitally except for those hero shots in the foreground.”

Aside from “Wallace & Gromit,” the other Aardman features embrace how to unify a community. “And football is the perfect symbol of that with teamwork and how the tribe pulls themselves together, even though the coach [Timothy Spall] doesn’t really believe they’re any good,” said Park. “He loves them but he keeps them in a low ambition state because it’s safe. It’s something that all the underdog sports movies have in common.”

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Before ‘Black Panther’ Pounces To Potential $180M+, ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ Will Pop At Valentine’s Day B.O.

Tomorrow Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther will own the night, and the entire weekend for that matter, but as far as BDSM romance Fifty Shades Freed goes, they’ll always have Valentine’s Day.
According to industry estimates –not Universal figures– the E.L. James threequel has already bagged $5.5M for the lovers’ holiday, already 41% ahead of its $3.9M Tuesday figure, and will swoon moviegoers by tonight with a total Wednesday between $10M-$11M. That will bring the James…

Tomorrow Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther will own the night, and the entire weekend for that matter, but as far as BDSM romance Fifty Shades Freed goes, they’ll always have Valentine’s Day. According to industry estimates –not Universal figures– the E.L. James threequel has already bagged $5.5M for the lovers’ holiday, already 41% ahead of its $3.9M Tuesday figure, and will swoon moviegoers by tonight with a total Wednesday between $10M-$11M. That will bring the James…

All 7 Aardman Animations Features Ranked, From ‘Wallace & Gromit’ to ‘Chicken Run’ (Photos)

In the same way that we look to France for fashion and Japan for electronics, we look to England for coziness. That’s at least in part due to Bristol-based Aardman Animations, the 46-year-old studio best known for its “Wallace & Gromit” franchise. With Aardman’s latest release “Early Man” hitting theaters, let’s revisit the studio’s feature-length output, from worst to best, to explore what make its films so special.

7. “Early Man” (2018)

“Early Man” is the closest Aardman has come to making a “bad” movie. This romp about the origins of soccer at the dawn of the Bronze Age is hardly shoddy, but there’s a definite whiff of second-rateness in the film’s predictable plotting, lazy puns, and ceaseless slapstick. Aardman’s lesser works can rightly be accused of weightlessness, and “Early Man” fits the bill: A week after my screening, I forgot I saw it.

6. “Shaun the Sheep Movie” (2015)

Based on the popular “Wallace & Gromit” spin-off series, the imaginatively titled “Shaun the Sheep Movie” feels similarly inconsequential story-wise to “Early Man,” but miles ahead in terms of ambition. The premise of a bored farm animal running away to experience the excitement of the big city is practically a children’s movie cliché, but this charming effort deserves respect for its wordless script and daring humility. For illustrating that cartoons for the masses need not involve endless mugging and patience-testing obnoxiousness, Aardman received its third Best Animated Feature nomination.

5. “Flushed Away” (2006)

DreamWorks sends Aardman’s soul to The Sunken Place in this collaboration between the two studios. Set in the sewers (where we’re treated to the sight of a half-wrapped chocolate bar that looks like an all-too-realistic-looking poo), “Flushed Away” revels in, well, toilet humor. And yet, I’d still rank this all-CG picture this high: Its story of a posh pet rat who doesn’t realize how lonely he is until he’s been banished to rodent-infested sewers is surprisingly fresh and resonant.

4. “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” (2005)

Welcome to the splitting-hairs phase of this ranking. The remaining four Aardman features are all superlative, so it’s only after much quibbling and parsing that the “Wallace & Gromit” movie, which boasts the studio’s sole Oscar win for Best Animated Feature, lands on this list at number four. Aardman’s famous claymation has never looked better — the entire picture is invitingly tactile — and “Curse of the Were-Rabbit” showcases the studio’s secret weapon: Its willingness to go dark, even a little dirty. But one nitpick persists — the story of a dotty inventor who accidentally turns himself into a monster and the canine sidekick who has to clean up all his messes, no matter how delightfully executed, is still a bit familiar.

3. “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” (2012)

Charles Darwin, Queen Victoria, and a floundering buccaneer who goes by “Pirate Captain” tussle over the world’s only dodo in “The Pirates! Band of Misfits.” After “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” this stop-motion-CG hybrid is the best showcase of Aardman’s brilliantly textural animation style. Just as winsome is the wholly original plot, based on the initial outing of Gideon Defoe’s “The Pirates!” book series, which sends up pirate tropes while offering a modern revision of the British empire.

2. “Arthur Christmas” (2011)

How is “Arthur Christmas” not a bigger deal? The only Aardman feature directed by a female filmmaker (Sarah Smith) is a forgotten masterpiece with a completely new take on the Santa story. Set against technological changes in the dynastic gift-distribution business, “Arthur Christmas” achieves that seemingly impossible balance between Yuletide sentimentality and pointed satire.

1. “Chicken Run” (2000)

What other film could top a list of Aardman’s achievements? The studio’s debut feature is still its best, a silly but scary “Handmaid’s Tale”-evoking fable about hens forced to lay (eggs) or die. The chickens imagine a new future — a farmer-less utopia — but first, they have to escape their pen. Aardman’s magnum opus is many fine things, not least a cozy, endearing, and sometimes truly ominous rebuke of the American flash that the studio itself has rejected to animation triumph.

In the same way that we look to France for fashion and Japan for electronics, we look to England for coziness. That’s at least in part due to Bristol-based Aardman Animations, the 46-year-old studio best known for its “Wallace & Gromit” franchise. With Aardman’s latest release “Early Man” hitting theaters, let’s revisit the studio’s feature-length output, from worst to best, to explore what make its films so special.

7. “Early Man” (2018)

“Early Man” is the closest Aardman has come to making a “bad” movie. This romp about the origins of soccer at the dawn of the Bronze Age is hardly shoddy, but there’s a definite whiff of second-rateness in the film’s predictable plotting, lazy puns, and ceaseless slapstick. Aardman’s lesser works can rightly be accused of weightlessness, and “Early Man” fits the bill: A week after my screening, I forgot I saw it.

6. “Shaun the Sheep Movie” (2015)

Based on the popular “Wallace & Gromit” spin-off series, the imaginatively titled “Shaun the Sheep Movie” feels similarly inconsequential story-wise to “Early Man,” but miles ahead in terms of ambition. The premise of a bored farm animal running away to experience the excitement of the big city is practically a children’s movie cliché, but this charming effort deserves respect for its wordless script and daring humility. For illustrating that cartoons for the masses need not involve endless mugging and patience-testing obnoxiousness, Aardman received its third Best Animated Feature nomination.

5. “Flushed Away” (2006)

DreamWorks sends Aardman’s soul to The Sunken Place in this collaboration between the two studios. Set in the sewers (where we’re treated to the sight of a half-wrapped chocolate bar that looks like an all-too-realistic-looking poo), “Flushed Away” revels in, well, toilet humor. And yet, I’d still rank this all-CG picture this high: Its story of a posh pet rat who doesn’t realize how lonely he is until he’s been banished to rodent-infested sewers is surprisingly fresh and resonant.

4. “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” (2005)

Welcome to the splitting-hairs phase of this ranking. The remaining four Aardman features are all superlative, so it’s only after much quibbling and parsing that the “Wallace & Gromit” movie, which boasts the studio’s sole Oscar win for Best Animated Feature, lands on this list at number four. Aardman’s famous claymation has never looked better — the entire picture is invitingly tactile — and “Curse of the Were-Rabbit” showcases the studio’s secret weapon: Its willingness to go dark, even a little dirty. But one nitpick persists — the story of a dotty inventor who accidentally turns himself into a monster and the canine sidekick who has to clean up all his messes, no matter how delightfully executed, is still a bit familiar.

3. “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” (2012)

Charles Darwin, Queen Victoria, and a floundering buccaneer who goes by “Pirate Captain” tussle over the world’s only dodo in “The Pirates! Band of Misfits.” After “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” this stop-motion-CG hybrid is the best showcase of Aardman’s brilliantly textural animation style. Just as winsome is the wholly original plot, based on the initial outing of Gideon Defoe’s “The Pirates!” book series, which sends up pirate tropes while offering a modern revision of the British empire.

2. “Arthur Christmas” (2011)

How is “Arthur Christmas” not a bigger deal? The only Aardman feature directed by a female filmmaker (Sarah Smith) is a forgotten masterpiece with a completely new take on the Santa story. Set against technological changes in the dynastic gift-distribution business, “Arthur Christmas” achieves that seemingly impossible balance between Yuletide sentimentality and pointed satire.

1. “Chicken Run” (2000)

What other film could top a list of Aardman’s achievements? The studio’s debut feature is still its best, a silly but scary “Handmaid’s Tale”-evoking fable about hens forced to lay (eggs) or die. The chickens imagine a new future — a farmer-less utopia — but first, they have to escape their pen. Aardman’s magnum opus is many fine things, not least a cozy, endearing, and sometimes truly ominous rebuke of the American flash that the studio itself has rejected to animation triumph.

‘Peter Rabbit’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Columbia Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “Peter Rabbit.” Ads placed for the fantasy/adventure film had an estimated media value of $6.75 million through Sunday for 1,623 national ad airings on 45 networks. (Spend […]

In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Columbia Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “Peter Rabbit.” Ads placed for the fantasy/adventure film had an estimated media value of $6.75 million through Sunday for 1,623 national ad airings on 45 networks. (Spend […]

‘Black Panther’ Heading Toward Massive $170 Million-Plus Opening

Disney-Marvel’s “Black Panther” is gaining momentum with forecasts estimating as much as $170 million in North America during the four-day President’s Day weekend, updated tracking shows. That’s significantly above the first tracking on Jan. 25 for the tentpole, which initially placed the debut in the $100 million to $120 million range for the Feb. 16-19 […]

Disney-Marvel’s “Black Panther” is gaining momentum with forecasts estimating as much as $170 million in North America during the four-day President’s Day weekend, updated tracking shows. That’s significantly above the first tracking on Jan. 25 for the tentpole, which initially placed the debut in the $100 million to $120 million range for the Feb. 16-19 […]