Island turns out for Black Panther

  • Embracing culture: Koshea Scott-Millett and Owen Millett dress in traditional African attire to watch the blockbuster movie
  • The cultural significance of the movie Black Panther has not been lost on Bermudian viewers who have flocked to the Speciality Cinema and Grill
  • Making an effort: Dre Hinds
  • Striking pose: Jermain Hinds
  • Dre Hinds
  • The cultural significance of the movie Black Panther has not been lost on Bermudian viewers who have flocked to the Speciality Cinema and Grill
  • Government approval: Walter Roban, Wayne Caines and Jamahl Simmons display pride in their heritage at the movie

Movie theatre owner Giovanna Easton was not convinced Black Panther would be a big hit in Bermuda, but she was happy to be proved wrong.

Hundreds of residents have flocked to Hamilton’s Speciality Cinema and Grill for the blockbuster superhero movie since it opened on the island last Thursday.

The Marvel Studio movie has drawn maximum crowds every night and is expected to be sold out for the next two weeks.

Mrs Easton told The Royal Gazette: “It has been non-stop since Thursday. We are very, very busy with this movie. Everybody wants to get in now. It’s definitely exceeded what we anticipated, especially for me.”

Mrs Easton said she was “not totally convinced” when her husband and co-owner, Shandon, came up with the idea.

She said: “My husband is a Marvel fan and said when Star Wars opened, ‘I want Black Panther’.

“He said, ‘We really need to get it because it is going to be huge, I know it is.’ I said OK and just went with the flow.”

She added: “I was not totally convinced until I saw the presales and when we started. He definitely was right; my husband nailed this one on the head.”

Black Panther has evolved into a cultural movement, smashing records and raking in more than $400 million in its opening weekend.

The movie follows hero T’Challa who, after the events of Captain America: Civil War, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to become king.

When an old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s strength as ruler and Black Panther is tested when he is drawn into a conflict that puts both Wakanda and the world at risk.

Speciality Cinema assistant manager Anastasia Azzario said its popularity in Bermuda stemmed from its showcasing of an all-black cast “in a positive light”.

She said: “We’ve had slave movies, thug movies and the ghetto movies, but we haven’t had a positive movie and I think that’s why everyone is excited to see it.”

Bermudians decked out in traditional African attire gathered at City Hall in Hamilton at the weekend to celebrate the premiere of the film.

Moviegoer Sharmaine Landy, 32, who wore a traditional African dress for the event, said: “I am a Marvel fan and I love that Black Panther was created in the 1960s when the Civil Rights Movement was going on and it was a symbol of hope for the black community.”

Cabinet ministers Wayne Caines, Walter Roban and Jamahl Simmons were among the guests who wore African-style robes.

Mr Caines said there was a “direct connection between popular cultural and our heritage”.

He said: “We felt that wearing our garb was a sense of national pride not only for Bermuda, but for the world at large, showing that we are proud of our heritage and proud of our culture.

“This is an opportunity for us to see Africa for the great cultural icon that she is.”

He added: “It’s an opportunity for young men and young women to see superheroes who look like them.

“It showed young people that even when we are in the fantasy world of Wakanda that they can be superheroes at everything that they do.

“It was a powerful experience to be a part of a movie that was culturally specific and culturally sensitive and highlighted the great things about the people that we are.”

The film is being screened at The Speciality Cinema and Grill until March 15.