After experiencing delays for over a year, the highly anticipated stand-alone film that finally gives Natasha Romanoff her own spotlight has released with great success in its first weekend. Marvel‘s Black Widow debuted both in theaters and with Premier Access on Disney+, and has already surpassed the $215 million mark since screenings began on Thursday night. Of that $215 million, $80 million came from domestic theatrical ticket sales, $60 million from Disney+, and $78 million from international ticket sales.
This marks the highest opening weekend since the pandemic began in March of 2o20. The previous top contender was another main franchise title, F9, which opened at $70 million domestically. Black Widow is also now the only film to pass the $100 million mark domestically, if you combine box office with streaming totals for the US, during this pandemic era.
About the controversial decision to make the film available online and in theaters, Chairman of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution Kareem Daniel said “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+.”
These numbers do show very similar totals for the film’s earnings from tickets and from Premier Access domestically, showing that American audiences are split about returning to theaters vs. watching films from the comfort of home. As Delta variant cases continue to increase across the country, it seems many movie fans are not quite ready to be filling theaters just yet.
Marvel’s next release comes on September 3 with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which will be debuting exclusively in theaters. That film’s opening numbers will be very indicative of where the film industry will be heading in terms of day-and-date releases on streaming and in theaters. For now, Warner Brothers will continue to keep their lineup on a similar dual model that launches 2021 titles on HBO Max on the same day as theatrical release. All eyes are on these major summer blockbusters, which typically revitalize slow years at the box office, as the country and world gradually reopen.