Black Panther” sprang to the top of the Chinese box office Friday, approaching a sleek $20 million by the early evening of its first day of release in the film’s last major market.

The movie’s strong performance as it heads into multiplexes in China should help allay fears that Chinese audiences are cool towards black-themed movies.

By midday Friday in China, the Disney-Marvel Comic Universe film had grossed $9.87 million (RMB62.7 million), according to data from China Box Office. That climbed to $18 million (RMB115 million) by 7 p.m. At that point, “Black Panther” accounted for 57% of Friday’s gross revenues, ahead of big-budget patriotic documentary “Amazing China,” which came in second place with 19%. Last week’s dominant title, “Operation Red Sea,” eased down to third place with 8%.

Previews and midnight screenings for “Black Panther” were worth $1.45 million (RMB9.2 million) on Thursday, elevating the film’s running total to $19.5 million (RMB124 million) by 7 p.m. in China.

China is a notoriously tricky theatrical market to predict. Audience tastes are changing rapidly and can vary between the big metropolises and the smaller towns, where local Chinese fare tends to dominate. “Black Panther” is also the first substantial Hollywood title to release since Chinese New Year in February and the end of the unofficial blackout period during which local films are given distribution priority.

The early numbers reinforce predictions that “Black Panther” could enjoy a $60 million opening weekend in China and go on to exceed $100 million. The movie had already achieved high interest levels on popular consumer film site Maoyan, pointing to it being regarded as simply another Marvel superhero title, rather than a difficult-to-sell specialty film.