Disney and Marvel's spin-off superhero flick "Black Widow" raked in a massive $80 million in its first week. Moviegoers celebrated the first movie set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to come out in two years, crushing the benchmark for the biggest opening weekend since the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Walt Disney Co. said Sunday the superhero pic generated an estimated $80 million in ticket sales in North America. Combined with $78 million from international theaters and at least $60 million in Disney+ Premier Access rentals, "Black Widow" grossed over $215 million in its first weekend.
The studio said it's the largest opening weekend since "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" debuted in 2019, pre-pandemic.
It's a massive win for coronavirus-era moviegoing. In North America, the previous pandemic record-holder was Universal's "F9," which debuted at $70 million a few weeks ago. But unlike "Black Widow," which is playing on 4,100 screens, the ninth "Fast & Furious" movie was exclusively in theaters.
"Black Widow," starring Scarlett Johansson, has had a long journey to theaters. Originally slated to come out in May of 2020, the blockbuster was delayed because of the pandemic. Disney ultimately decided to release it "day and date," meaning on more than one platform at the same time.
"Black Widow" came out in theaters and for a $30 rental on its subscription streaming service Disney+. Although not unprecedented for pandemic movie releases, or even for Disney, which did the same for "Cruella," it's the first Marvel movie to attempt the hybrid strategy. And it's by far the biggest earner to date.
It is unusual for studios to release grosses from streaming profits in real-time.
"'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+," said Kareem Daniel, the chairman of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, in a statement as quoted by The Associated Press (AP).
After a brutal year and change for the movie theater business, the performance of "Black Widow" is encouraging to Hollywood and film exhibitors alike. David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, said Marvel remains in a league of its own at the box office. After all, few film franchises would still be able to galvanize audiences 24 films in.
"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 said according to Reuters. "For now, those impediments make 'Black Widow's opening all the more impressive."
Universal's "F9: The Fast Saga" came in a distant second place with $10.8 million. Since it released 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.
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