‘Black Widow’ is either the most successful disappointment of 2021 or its most disappointing success


After a little over a month in theaters and on Disney + “Premier Access”, Black Widow arrives today on all relevant VOD platforms. The Scarlet Johansson-led MCU prequel is now yours for $ 30, or the same price you could have rented it for if you had subscribed to Disney + a month ago. Assuming business continues as usual, it will be ‘free’ on Disney + in early October, after which it will skyrocket in Nielsen’s ratings and the Mouse House will try to spin it off as a win that many people have been waiting for. to watch the $ 200 million superhero movie until it’s “free” on their streaming platform.

That said, with all the dismay over the dual release, including Johansson suing Disney for the change in release strategy, the film has so far lived up to the journey of a low-level MCU movie. To witness it, Black Widow opened with $ 80 million in domestic revenue last month, obviously the biggest Fri-Sun start since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ($ 173 million) in December 2019. It took a brutal plunge (especially for Marvel) of 69% the second weekend and hasn’t really leveled off, only passing now F9 ($ 171 million) as the biggest household income this year.

It earned $ 174 million domestically in 31 days of release, with a likely final gross of over / under $ 182 million, or on par (without inflation) with Thor ($ 181 million in 2011), The ant Man ($ 180 million in 2015) and Captain America: The First Avenger ($ 176 million in 2011). That would give it a weekend-final multiplier (around 2.27x) just below Captain America: Civil War ($ 179 million x 2.28 = $ 409 million in 2016) as the most loaded MCU movie ahead.

So even if it is obviously shorter than the tastes of midsummer Ant-Man and the Wasp ($ 216 million / $ 76 million) and Spider-Man: Homecoming ($ 334 million / $ 117 million), it was the same Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II ($ 381 million / $ 169 million) at the time. I wouldn’t remotely say that every Disney + dollar came out of the domestic or foreign box office (I’d say more damage was done to post-theatrical revenue streams), becoming cinema exclusive would probably mean less preload.

Such a thing may have repelled him Bad boys for life to make it the first film over $ 200 million since January 2020 and towards a total closer to Thor: The Dark World and Ant-Man and the Wasp vs The ant Man and Thor. The idea that Black Widow, a Black Widow solo prequel that opens after Natasha’s death in Avengers: Endgame with almost nothing to sell other than “Hey, this is a Black Widow solo movie,” was never going to be the next big MCU blast.

Even in non-Covid times, it has always been possible that Black widow, eternal and Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings maybe had to be content Ant-Man and the Wasp ($ 620 million) to Doctor strange ($ 677 million) in gross revenue. The performance of Black Widow, especially right now, means next to nothing to the overall fate of the MCU. Looking at the overseas income so far, it’s just bad enough. The film has earned $ 185 million overseas, which looks worse as it has yet to secure a release date in China. In a pre-Covid world, there was hope that Black Widow would continue the run Marvel has had in China since mid-2018.

Thought Ant-Man 2 ($ 125 million), Captain marvel ($ 154 million) and Spider-Man: Far From Home ($ 199 million) hitting new milestones for MCU movies without a set while Avengers: Endgame earned $ 620 million in China alone, which was enough to (temporarily) surpass Avatar on the global box office mountain. It could still open in China after the blackout ends, but A) last year proved once and for all that China doesn’t need Hollywood blockbusters and B) the release of Disney + will likely have an impact on revenues due to widespread piracy. But even in a muted Chinese market (for Hollywood movies, anyway), Black Widow could have counted on an additional $ 100 million in gross revenue.

So, right away, Black Widow won $ 360 million worldwide. It’s already tied with Captain America: The First Avenger ($ 376 million in 2011) and with the notional $ 140 million in China and other territories “won’t necessarily open up,” it could very well have grossed $ 600 million globally. Add (very rough estimate) $ 100 million to the total Disney + purchases ($ 60 million opening weekend, $ 40 million for the next two months), for which Disney gets 85%. So that’s $ 170 million in theoretical additional box office (although I would never say that every dollar for Disney + is a dollar otherwise spent at the box office) for a theoretical grand total of $ 670 million.

If this “fun with math” is accurate somewhere, then Black Widow would have done pretty much as expected on the lower end of the post-Avengers MCU Movies, which is suitable for a Phase Four movie that plays out like a Phase One origin story. Now let’s pretend I’m far from it all. Instead, claim that $ 75 million in Disney + revenue (equivalent to $ 125 million at the box office), $ 75 million in China, and $ 25 million in other territories means around $ 225 million. notional income and, heck, that could open up and erupt in China in the near future), which would bring his worldwide income to $ 585 million, or ironically on par with Iron Man since 2008.

I’ve written a lot about ‘successful disappointments’ this summer, which is when movies that open in the midst of the pandemic can still open with about as much as they would have been. if they had been disappointed in non-Covid time. Think, yeah, the $ 35 million opening Jungle cruise, the $ 24 million debut of The Conjuring: Le Diable Mad Me Do It or the $ 16.5 million launch of M. Night Shyamalan Old woman. Black Widow may, when all the money made during its theatrical release (both in and out of theaters) is calculated, may come close to the lower end of “business as usual” for a low-end MCU movie . It’s either the most disappointing success of this summer or its most successful disappointment.


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