Disney Strategy Pays Off for Black Widow

Marvel film does especially well in theaters, at $80M
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 11, 2021 1:40 PM CDT
Disney Strategy Pays Off for Black Widow
This image released by Marvel Studios shows Scarlett Johansson in a scene from "Black Widow."   (Marvel Studios-Disney via AP)

Even with an option to watch Black Widow at home, audiences went to the movie theater in pandemic record numbers this weekend to catch the first Marvel movie released in two years. 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, the AP reports. In North America, the previous pandemic recordholder was Universal’s F9, which debuted to $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, had a long journey to theaters. Originally slated to come out in May 2020, the film was delayed because of the pandemic. Disney ultimately decided to release it 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. "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, chairman of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, in a statement.

(Read more box office stories.)

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