Marvel's 'Black Widow' blasts past 'F9,' sets new pandemic box-office record
The superhero movie (starring Scarlett Johansson in the title role) generated an estimated $80 million in ticket sales in North America, Disney announced Sunday. Combined with $78 million from international theaters and at least $60 million in Disney+ Premier Access rentals, "Black Widow" grossed more than $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 recordholder was "F9," which debuted to $70 million two weeks ago. But unlike "Black Widow," which is playing on 4,100 screens, the ninth "Fast & Furious" movie was exclusively in theaters.
"Black Widow" has had a long journey to theaters. Originally slated to come out in May 2020, the blockbuster 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.
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," Kareem Daniel, chairman of Disney media and entertainment distribution, said in a statement, while also "providing choice to consumers who prefer to watch at home on Disney+" as COVID concerns continue.