Ryan Coogler shared a heartfelt note thanking Marvel fans for making Black Panther: Wakanda Forever a huge success.

In a post shared on the official Marvel social media accounts, Coogler detailed what the support has meant to him as the sequel’s worldwide gross topped $550 million. “Gratitude. That is the only world that comes to mind for your support of our work on the film Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” he wrote. “I am filled with it. Thank you. Thank you to the people who bought their tickets early and camped out opening weekend. Thank you to those of you who took their families out—young ones and elders in tow."

Coogler’s latest Marvel epic was forced to contend with the untimely loss of Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed the titular character in the first film. Instead of taking the easy route in recasting the character, the absence of Boseman hangs heavy over the movie. In his note, Coogler expressed gratitude for audiences who flocked to Wakanda Forever despite its heavier tone and longer running time.

“Our film deals with the inescapable human emotion of grief,” he wrote. “Thank you for opening yourself up to the emotional journey of this film. We made something to honor our friend, who was a giant in our industry, and we also made something to be enjoyed in a theatrical setting with friends, family, and strangers. Something to be quoted and discussed. To be debated. Something to make people both physically and emotionally feel seen. This medium wouldn’t exist without an audience, and I thank you for giving me professional purpose, and an emotional outlet. I look forward to bringing you more stories in the future.”

Following the release of Black Panther in 2018, Coogler shared a similar letter thanking audiences for their overwhelming support. At the time he suggested that he didn’t expect the movie to do as well as it did. It ultimately grossed over $1.38 billion worldwide, making it the sixth highest grossing film of all-time. The sequel is well on its way to bringing in an impressive gross, too, and has already set the record for the biggest debut in November ever with $180 million at the domestic box office during its opening weekend.