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The female-led superhero pic snared the biggest North American start since the COVID-19 crisis commenced, and the largest since Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in December 2019.
Overseas, the film earned $78.8 million from 46 territories for a worldwide theatrical debut of $158.8 million.
Additionally, Black Widow made at least $60 million from Disney+ Premier Access — a household has to pay $30 to watch the film — for a global start of $218.8 million, according to Disney. It’s unprecedented for a studio to announce a premium VOD or streaming viewership number on a film’s opening weekend, and Disney’s decision to do so prompted a flurry of conversations across Hollywood on Sunday as to whether this will lead to more transparency. (Disney, for instance, has yet to say what the Disney+ Premier Access numbers were for Cruella or Raya and the Last Dragon.)
In a second milestone of the weekend, Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II crossed $150 million domestically in its seventh outing. That’s a first for the pandemic era.
Until now, Universal’s F9 domestic start of $70 million (including $7.1 million in Thursday sneaks) held the crown for top pandemic-era opening (F9‘s global gross is approaching $550 million, including $141.3 million domestically.) Both F9 and Black Widow are among numerous 2020 tentpoles that were delayed because of the COVID-19 crisis.
The major difference between the two: A Quiet Place Part II and F9 received an exclusive theatrical release, while Black Widow opted to open day-and-date on Disney+ Premier Access.
Some analysts hoped Black Widow would come closer to $100 million in its domestic debut. But the box office is still in recovery mode, and far from operating at normal levels in some parts of North America, not to mention the movie’s hybrid release strategy. Moviegoers who are 35 and older are far less likely to return to the multiplex, while some parents are reluctant to take unvaccinated kids (usually, Marvel films gets help on Saturday from family business, but this time around, Saturday was down more than 40 percent).
Males made up 58 percent of box office ticket buyers in North America. Fanboys are huge Imax customers; the large-format company turned in $12 million for Black Widow globally.
The recovery is even more complicated overseas, where Black Widow opened this week and weekend in most major markets, excluding areas still impacted by COVID-19 closures, including Taiwan, India, parts of Australia and some countries in Southeast Asia and Latin America. (In North America, a swath of cinemas in Canada, including Toronto, are still shuttered.) Black Widow does not yet have a release date in China, where the box office has rebounded in a major way.
Watching Black Widow on Disney+ Premier Access is also an option in numerous international markets where the streamer is available.
“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+,” Kareem Daniel, chairman of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, said in a statement.
“It’s incredible to see audiences enjoying Black Widow after two years without a new Marvel Studios film, and this spectacular opening weekend shows just how eager fans have been to see this beloved Avenger in her own story. There’s no question it’s been worth the wait. 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,” said Alan Bergman, chairman of Disney Studios Content.
Directed by Shortland, the big-budget tentpole stars Johansson in the titular role. The action-thriller follows Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow as she revisits her past. Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz and David Harbour also star.
It’s been more than two years since a Marvel/Disney superhero pic (Avengers: Endgame) graced the big screen. Endgame, which was released in late April 2019, was followed in July of that year by Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man: Far From Home.
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