The film, starring Scarlett Johansson, is the first from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to open simultaneously in movie theaters and on Disney Plus, where subscribers can rent “Black Widow” for an extra $30. Disney reported that “Black Widow” generated more than $60 million “in Disney Plus Premier Access consumer spend globally,” marking the rare occasion in which a studio disclosed the profits made from streaming.
Directed by Cate Shortland, “Black Widow” collected an additional $78 million from 46 international territories, boosting its global box office haul to an impressive $158 million. Combined with Disney Plus numbers, the final weekend figure sits at $215 million. Curbing overall ticket sales, however, is the fact that “Black Widow” still doesn’t have a release date in China, which is an all-important moviegoing market for the Marvel franchise.
Disney began rolling out select movies under its Premier Access banner as a concession while moviegoing was impaired during the pandemic. The studio didn’t share viewership data for the previously released “Cruella” starring Emma Stone and the animated “Raya and the Last Dragon,” which also premiered simultaneously in theaters and on Disney Plus for a premium fee. It’s unclear if Disney will continue to report on digital rental data for its upcoming films or if the studio will selectively parcel out information to only highlight strong results. That will be tested when “Jungle Cruise,” a family film starring Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson, opens in cinemas and on Disney Plus on July 30.
“Black Widow” was originally slated to premiere in 2020, but it was delayed several times due to the pandemic. “There’s no question it’s been worth the wait,” said Disney Studios Content chairman Alan Bergman. “Cate Shortland, Scarlett Johansson, and the Marvel Studios team have delivered an exceptional film that continues a legacy of creative excellence as the Marvel Cinematic Universe expands and enters a new era.”
Disney’s media and entertainment distribution chairman Kareem Daniel on Sunday morning touted the success of the hybrid rollout for “Black Widow,” the first Marvel movie to be released in two years. As Disney previously announced, Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (opening on Sept. 3) will play exclusively in theaters for 45 days, but the studio hasn’t laid out plans for “Eternals,” which launches on Nov. 5.
“‘Black Widow’s’ strong performance this weekend affirms our flexible distribution strategy of making franchise films available in theaters for a true cinematic experience and, as COVID concerns continue globally, providing choice to consumers who prefer to watch at home on Disney Plus.”
“Black Widow” marks a massive win for movie theaters, which have been struggling to recover from the mass closures and capacity restrictions that decimated their business during the pandemic. It’s also notable because it displays that movies can bring in solid box office receipts despite being available on streaming services at the same time. However, David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, notes that Marvel movies are in a league of its own at the box office. Not every new release has the built-in fanbase needed to replicate those results. In total, the 24 films that populate the commercially unrivaled Marvel Cinematic Universe have brought in $22 billion theatrically since 2008.
“Certainly the figure would be higher if every theater were open, if there were zero concern with COVID, and if there weren’t a streaming option,” Gross says. “For now, those impediments make ‘Black Widow’s’ opening all the more impressive.”
Universal’s “F9: The Fast Saga,” the previous record holder for pandemic-era box office debuts, came in a distant second place with $10.8 million. Since it released exclusively on the big screen three weeks ago, the action sequel starring Vin Diesel has generated $141 million in North America. At the international box office, “F9” crossed the $400 million mark, boosting its global total to $541.8 million.
Universal also took third and fourth place on domestic box office charts with “Boss Baby: Family Business” ($8.7 million) and “The Forever Purge” ($6.7 million). “The Boss Baby” sequel and the most recent “Purge” installment each opened theatrically over the July 4 holiday weekend and have now collected $34.7 million and $27.4 million, respectively.
Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II” took the fifth spot with $3 million, pushing its domestic tally to $150 million, the biggest result yet for a movie released during the pandemic.
For the first time since the onset of COVID-19, the domestic box office has surpassed $100 million in total revenues. The overall weekend tally currently stands at $117 million, according to Comscore. That’s encouraging to box office experts because it comes at a time when 19% of North American movie theaters remain shuttered. After a delayed start to summer, movie theaters will host several buzzy titles in the next few months, including “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller “Old” and the “G.I. Joe” origin story “Snake Eyes” with Henry Golding.
“Having a record number of pandemic-era patrons at the multiplex being exposed to in-theater marketing and trailers on the big screen will help boost interest moving forward,” says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore. “However, the box office ebb and flow will continue as theaters work their way back to 100% availability.”