For the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a franchise that remains unrivaled at the box office, that would not traditionally be a benchmark worth highlighting. Many of its recent installments, at least the ones released pre-pandemic, have flown past $200 million globally in their opening weekends and climbed to $1 billion with relative ease. But, even as vaccination rates increase and people adapt to the outside world, moviegoing has yet to revert to normalcy. Still, roughly 20% of cinemas in the U.S. remain shuttered and locations in key international territories, including parts of Southeast Asia and Latin America, have closed again to help curb the spread of new variants of COVID-19. That makes otherwise expected achievements worth celebrating.
After five days in North American theaters, “Black Widow” is now the fastest pandemic-era release to cross $100 million. It took the previous record holder, Universal’s “Fast and Furious” sequel “F9,” eight days to reach that milestone. So far, only four movies — including “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “A Quiet Place Part II” — have collected more than $100 million in the U.S. since March of 2020.
“Black Widow” is poised to reclaim the top spot on domestic box office charts this weekend over two new nationwide releases, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and “Escape Room: Tournament of Champions.” If estimates hold, the Marvel comic book adventure could add as much as $30 million in its sophomore frame. Along with its box office haul, “Black Widow” has generated at least $60 million on Disney Plus, where subscribers can rent the film for $30. Disney isn’t expected to update “Black Widow’s” streaming revenues beyond its opening weekend sales.
Directed by Cate Shortland (“Berlin Syndrome”), “Black Widow” co-stars Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz and takes place before Natasha Romanoff became an Avenger. The film has been embraced by audiences and critics, with Variety’s Owen Gleiberman writing in his review that the film is “grittier, more layered with feeling, than you expect.”
“The movie features just enough kinetic combat to give a mainstream audience that getting-your-money’s-worth feeling,” Gleiberman said. “But […] most of it has a gritty, deliberate, zap-free tone that is strikingly — and intentionally — earthbound for a superhero fantasy.”