Once he got out of his 8 a.m. class Tuesday, Austin Andre parked himself in front of a to-be-formed line inside Hampton University’s Student Center.
For awhile, the 19-year-old computer science major stood in front of a large promotional poster for the film “Black Panther,” which included directions on how HU students could score tickets to an early screening of the film.
Eventually, someone offered him a chair to sit on, while others slowly formed a line behind him.
In total, Andre and 227 other HU students signed up for the screening of the highly anticipated Marvel film, which will be held Wednesday, two days before the movie premieres across the country. The event is sponsored by the Office of Student Activities.
“I’ve been sitting here for the past two hours,” Andre said. “It’s ‘Black Panther,’ I want to see the movie. It’s going to be a good movie by default, because it’s a Marvel movie, and I’ve got to support black actors and the community.”
Box office estimates for “Black Panther,” which tells the story of an African king and superhero, keep rising, with the latest forecast being $150 million as of Monday, Variety reported.
The entertainment magazine also reported that Imax Entertainment CEO Greg Foster said that the movie is the biggest seller of advance Imax tickets.
The movie’s appeal was clear at HU, which is a historically black university. More than 100 students were in line before ticket sign-ups began at 11:30 a.m., and the crowd kept growing until dozens had to be turned away after all 228 were allotted.
Students waited their turn for tickets while listening to the movie’s Kendrick Lamar-directed soundtrack, with the university’s African Students Association’s Jolie Afrique dance group performing to the track “Redemption.”
Nia Harbour, a senior from Los Angeles, was able to score her seat before they ran out.
“It’s the first movie of its kind. There has never been an African-American superhero in Marvel, and so to have that is phenomenal,” said Harbour. “To really show support and be able to see somebody who looks like me on screen is something that’s important. …
“You never see more positive roles, you see slavery, you see people making fun of, but you never see people in a positive light that are doing good. It’s going to bring a different feel to the movie theater and it’s going to be really uplifting and empowering.”
Also of significance to the HU community is that alumna Ruth E. Carter is the film’s costume designer. Carter, who graduated in 1982, came back to campus last year for the university’s second annual film festival.
Her work on “Black Panther” is creating buzz about its intricate use of various African imagery, textiles and designs to demonstrate the world of Wakanda in the film, a fictional East African nation.
After students signed up for their tickets, they were encouraged to sign cards for Carter in support of her work.
“Congrats on your success! You are an inspiration for all Hampton women!” wrote one student.
“Congratulations!!” wrote Josiah Belfon-Valentine. “Pushing, forming and fostering the culture. Pirate Family is proud of you.”
Hammond can be reached by phone at 757-247-4951 or on Twitter @byjanehammond.