“Black Widow” marks the return of Marvel movies to cinemas after a long and arduous COVID-era absence. There’s clearly been a lot of pent-up demand for all things MCU. The film grossed a mighty $13.2 million in Thursday previews and is widely expected to dominate weekend ticket sales.
“Black Widow” is projected to bring in $80 million when it opens at the North American box office, besting the $70 million bow of Universal’s “F9” to set a new high-water mark for films released during the pandemic. That’s a shot in the arm to movie theaters, which are looking for some summer blockbusters to help lift them out of the deep financial hole left by the closures and capacity restrictions that became a staple of life during COVID times.
But “Black Widow” isn’t a traditional summer release. The film is also being made available to fans day-and-date on Disney Plus Premier Access, where audiences will be able to watch the movie from the comfort of their couches for $30. That could depress box office returns for the movie, though it may be a boon to Disney, which won’t have to share those revenues with cinemas.
“Black Widow’s” preview results compare favorably with those of other superhero movies that were released in a less grave public health situation. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” nabbed $15.4 million in previews, topping out at $117 million for the inaugural weekend, while “Thor: Ragnarok” earned $14.5 million in previews en route to a $123 million debut. The results, a new record during the pandemic, are better than that of “Ant-Man & The Wasp,” which earned $11.5 million in previews before closing out its first weekend with $76 million in receipts.
“Black Widow” follows Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) as she embarks on a mission between the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” In the film, Romanoff must confront the darker parts of her past after she uncovers a dangerous conspiracy. The cast also includes Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz, with Cate Shortland handling directing duties.
Internationally, “Black Widow” opened in several major markets on Thursday, including Germany, Russia, Australia, Japan, Korea, Brazil and Mexico. The film has made $22.4 million internationally in its initial two days of release.