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Black Panther
Chadwick Boseman in his role as T'Challa (AKA: the Black Panther) from the Marvel superhero movie "Black Panther." (Disney / Marvel via MGN)

'Black Panther' scores $25.2 million debut in U.S., premieres in South Africa

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Black Panther" is well on its way to a record-making weekend at the North American box office.

The Walt Disney Co. estimates Friday that the superhero movie earned $25.2 million from its Thursday preview screenings. It's the second biggest for a Marvel Studios film behind "Avengers: Age of Ultron," which earned $27.6 million in previews, and the best for the month of February.

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Preview screenings typically begin with 7pm Thursday showings.

"Black Panther" is now pacing to earn somewhere between $172 and $198 million across the four-day holiday weekend. It will far surpass the previous February record held by "Deadpool" which took in $152.2 million in 2016.

Internationally, the film has grossed $47 million in its first three days with strong showings in the U.K. and Korea.

South Africans cheered the local premiere of "Black Panther" Friday and have quickly begun dissecting the way actors pronounced the local isiXhosa language used in the film's fictional kingdom of Wakanda.

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Actresses Lupita Nyong'o and Danai Gurira were applauded along with the South African actors who played roles in the film and contributed to the soundtrack.

South African actress Connie Chiume told the audience before the screening in Johannesburg: "I think we will walk out of here and the world will have changed. Africa, we are here. We've arrived."

Reviews were enthusiastic.

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After viewing the movie, audience member Ayanda Sidzatane called it awesome and a "good representation of African people."

She says, "We knew it would be cool but not like this."

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