‘Black Widow’ Smashes Pandemic Record With Huge $80 Million Domestic Opening
For Disney, the wait definitely turned out to be worth it as its long-delayed Marvel tentpole Black Widow came storming out of the gate with a huge $80 million opening at the North American box office, smashing the previous pandemic-era record set by F9: The Fast Saga just three weeks ago. While the Scarlett Johansson superhero epic also cleaned up overseas, perhaps the second-biggest surprise of the weekend was that the secretive studio revealed that Black Widow tacked on another $60 million in Premier Access rentals through its Disney Plus streaming service.

Originally slated to hit theaters back in May 2020, Black Widow saw its release date rescheduled several times as COVID-19 continued to keep multiplexes dark throughout the pandemic. In fact, last summer was the first without a splashy Marvel offering in recent memory (the last MCU film to open in theaters was Spider-Man: Far From Home, which bowed to a $92.6 million first weekend over the first three days of the Fourth of July weekend in 2019). All of the waiting just seemed to stoke fanboys and fangirls’ appetites, however, as evidenced by Black Widow’s $80 million debut. And it appears they got their money’s worth as the film snagged an ‘A-‘ grade from CinemaScore and earned an 80% fresh rating from critics and a 92% from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.

The PG-13-rated film, which brings back Johansson as Natasha Romanoff and is set somewhere between the time of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, opened in 4,160 theaters. It marked the first MCU chapter to open simultaneously in both theaters and on the Disney Plus streaming platform for an additional $30 surcharge. And while the studio usually keeps its streaming audience data hush-hush (as it did with both Cruella and Raya and the Last Dragon), it shocked industry watchers by divulging that Black Widow generated more than $60 million via its Premier Access model.

The film also added another $78 million from 46 international territories, bringing its debut-weekend theatrical total to $158 million. Still, one major market where the blockbuster did not open was China, which still has not set a release date for the film. After that is sorted out, the big question mark for Disney and Marvel is whether its next release, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, can keep the momentum going when it hits theaters on September 3. In the meantime, consider this astounding numerical nugget: The 24 films that comprise the MCU have now brought in $22 billion (with a ‘b’) theatrically since 2008.

With Black Widow dominating the box-office headlines, F9: The Fast Saga had to settle for the runner-up slot after three consecutive weeks at number one in North America. The tenth chapter in Universal’s muscle-car cycle, which stars Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, racked up $10.9 million in its third weekend, dropping off -52.7% from the previous frame. The PG-13-rated speed-demon sequel unspooled in 3,649 locations and scored a $2,981 per-screen average. Its total domestic box office now stands at $141.3 million. Overseas, where the film bowed earlier than it did in the U.S., F9 has raked in $400.5 million, bringing its worldwide gross to $541.8 million.

Universal also scored the third and fourth spots in the top five at the domestic box office. In third place was The Boss Baby: Family Business—a follow-up to Uni’s 2017 kiddie smash, The Boss Baby, which again featured the voice of Alec Baldwin. The PG-rated sequel earned $8.7 million in its second weekend, slipping 45.6% from the prior session. Boss Baby 2 scored a $2,359 per-screen average in 3,688 theaters, bringing its two-week domestic box-office total to $34.7 million. To date, the family film has added a paltry $1.7 million from overseas, pushing its global cume to $36.5 million. The film is also playing on NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, Peacock.

In fourth place was the latest entry in Blumhouse’s lucrative Purge franchise, The Forever Purge. The R-rated dystopian horror sequel scared up $6.7 million in its second weekend, sliding -46.5% from the previous frame and bringing its two-week domestic box-office haul to $27.4 million. In its sophomore weekend, The Forever Purge tallied a $2,359 per-screen average in 3,688 theaters. Abroad, it has earned an additional $7.4 million, putting its global total at $34.8 million.

Rounding out the top five was the horror film that refuses to die—A Quiet Place Part II. The PG-13-rated Paramount fright flick continued to make noise with $3 million in its seventh weekend in multiplexes, falling a mere -26.7% from the previous session and scoring a $1,063 per-screen average in 2,826 theaters. Its domestic total finally nudged past the $150 million milestone and currently sits at $150.7 million. Overseas, the movie has added $128.3 million so far, lifting its current worldwide total to $279 million.

Hitting theaters next weekend—but probably not a huge threat to Black Window, is Warner Bros.’ long-awaited hoops-and-’toons sequel, Space Jam: A New Legacy.