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Thursday, Aug 16, 2018
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‘Black Panther’ has Tampa Bay ready to hit theaters

We can feel the rawr all over Tampa Bay this weekend.

Black Panther, Marvelís hotly anticipated superhero movie, opens today. Itís expected to gross $150 million over Presidentsí Day weekend, more than all three Marvel movies released in 2017. Itís not hard to imagine, considering the first trailer picked up almost
90 million views online in its first 24 hours. Click here to read movie critic Steve Persallís review.

More than three-fourths of black Americans plan to see the movie, according to a report from consumer research data company YouGov. The movie, which tells the story of the king of the imaginary African nation Wakanda, stars Chadwick Boseman and a predominantly black cast. Director Ryan Coogler is also black. The result is being lauded as a major step forward for positive racial representation in a film universe thatís often devoid of role models for people of color.

"Iím 40 years old and Iíve never seen a Marvel character that looked like me, as an African-American male," Thaddeus "Titus OíNeil" Bullard, former Gator, pro wrestler and philanthropist told the Tampa Bay Times recently.

Bullard was helping with the #BlackPantherChallenge, a movement to raise money to help children see the movie. Bullard and Alicia "Joy" McDowell were especially focused on helping local children from low-income families and schools. By this week, they had smashed their goal of $4,000. At press time, two theaters still had seats available for the free screenings ó AMC Veterans 24 in Tampa and Cobb Grove 16 in Wesley Chapel. Visit blackpanthertampa.com to register.

If you want to couple education with popcorn munching, head over to AMC Sundial 20 at 6:30 tonight. SpringZone St.Pete is presenting a free Black Panther event with Black Panther trivia, cosplayers, comic books from Emerald City and toy giveaways. A youth troupe from nonprofit Kreative Kids and Beyond will demonstrate the West and South African traditional dancing and drumming pictured in the movie. Speakers will discuss the concept of Afrofuturism, science and technology. And you can learn more about how to get involved with educational efforts in the community, even after Black Panther has thrashed out of theaters.

ALSO INSIDE: Cirque du Soleil has raised a big top tent on Volta, with shows running through March 18 at the Tampa Greyhound Track. Read to find out more about the production and why Cirque chose the location. In this tent setting, expect to get closer than usual to Cirqueís troupe of amazing athletes, acrobats and aerialists.

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