A crowd-funding drive to send hundreds of Toronto black youths to a free screening of the upcoming Black Panther movie has had a blockbuster response from donors.
Excitement is growing for the Marvel film based on the comic of the same name — the first to feature a black superhero in the lead. The movie's trailer alone had 89 million views in the first day it went online.
And it's sold the more presale tickets in the first 24 hours than any other Marvel movie.
But for Andray Domise, Black Panther, which hits the big screen Feb 16, is more than a movie.
"He's a huge inspiration to me," said Domise, a writer and advocate who's highly visible in in Toronto's black community. "In the comic book industry, especially in the 80s when I grew up, you really didn't have a lot of characters you could identify with as a black person."
Domise says he's been a fan since he was a kid and some of his prize possessions are his Black Panther comic books and a sketchbook of concept images for the movie.
And with so few positive stories coming out of Hollywood for youth in his community, he wanted as many young people as possible to see the comic book character that inspired him brought to life on the big screen.
"We would love to bring black youth out to see this film free of cost to them. We want to make sure anyone who wanted to see it could see it," said Domise.
So he and the Black Business and Professionals Association started a crowd funding page to raise $6,000. Enough for 200 kids to see the movie when it opens next month, including a drink and a bag of popcorn.
Within 24 hours the Black Panther Community Screening for Toronto's Black Youth page had achieved more than double the original goal. And it's well on its way to $15,000 with weeks to go.
"I guess people really supported the idea that black youth needed to see themselves represented in film," says Domise.
Now the group is looking for a larger theatre so more kids can see the movie and be inspired. But Nadine Spencer, president of the Black Business and Professionals Association, says long after the hype is over the fund will be changing lives.
"As an organization whose mission is to address equity in our community through business initiatives and programs, we're going to have a program that young people can participate in to learn how the film industry works, and training and writing classes and so forth," Spencer said.
So the kids won't just get a free movie in the end, but a chance to learn to become the next generation of storytellers.