“Black Widow” Captures Biggest Box Office Debut Since Start of Pandemic With $215 Million

Jay Maidment

Disney and Marvel’s superhero adventure “Black Widow” captured a massive $80 million in its first weekend, crushing the benchmark for the biggest box office debut since the pandemic.

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.”

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SOURCE: Variety, Rebecca Rubin

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