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Black Panther, Depth, Depth in screenwriting, thematic, Thematic Depth, Universal Thematic Depth -

For screenwriters looking to imbue their scripts with universal thematic depth, there’s a great example to look to. As the clock winds down on 2018, the number one movie of the year at the domestic box office in the USA is BLACK PANTHER.

BLACK PANTHER grossed 700 million dollars domestically. It grossed another 646 million in foreign markets. The film made well north of a literal billion dollars. It’s a smash hit by any possible definition. And it was a smash everywhere. The film made 100 million dollars in China. It made 28 million in Mexico. It made 42 million in South Korea.

What’s so impressive about BLACK PANTHER is that its themes are both universal and specific. For African-American audience members, certain elements of the story may hold greater weight, like the backstory of Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger, or the visitation of T’Challa at the end of the film to open an outreach center. But anyone can appreciate the themes of this film.

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storytelling, surface plot, thematic, theme -

Let’s take a standard plot, absent any true theme. A cop must stop a serial killer. You can dress up the serial killer with any sort of elaborate methodology or ritual, and give the cop all sorts of gritty edge. None of that means anything other than window dressing unless it’s in the service of a substantive thematic thrust.


Plot doesn’t stand the test of time in the same way theme does. 

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