With F9 exceeding $ 500 million worldwide and probably considering a national income above or below $ 160 million, it would appear that the Fast Furious the suite is the last big tent pole (alongside Godzilla vs. Kong and A quiet place part II) to perform as well as it might have in a non-Covid environment. This is not an exact match, notice, like maybe Godzilla vs. Kong could have made $ 115 million (just above Godzilla: King of the Monsters) while Quiet place 2 would have approached $ 188 million A quiet place, but it’s close enough that we can say that Black Widow may be able to be “judged” on non-Covid standards when it opens this weekend.
So, if it had opened in May 2020 without a global pandemic as planned, what could we have expected? Well, the question is whether the MCU prequel led by Scarlett Johansson would have worked like Doctor strange or Thor: Ragnarok. Think of it as a truncated “pessimistic” and “optimistic” box office look, the sort of thing I was doing with multiple posts three months away from a big movie’s theatrical release. Be that as it may, the “pessimistic” gaze would argue that Black Widow was a prequel between Civil war and Infinity war featuring a single non-overpowered Avenger who died in End of Game. Black Widow should have had a solo movie years ago, like maybe during the summer of 2017 between Civil war and Infinity war.
This overdue status and Natasha having already sacrificed herself spoils the “event movie” nature of this MCU actor. Same, the movie directed by Kate Shortland being the MCU movie with a solo director after Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman, Patty jenkins Wonder Woman 1984 and that of Cathy Yan Birds of prey (plus Lexi Alexander’s Punisher War Zone of a pre-MCU era). Without the forward narrative momentum and its existence as a largely unfinished business before Phase Four began, the MCU brand would be doing more work than usual. In this scenario, I would say an opening weekend between $ 75 million (Ant-Man and the Wasp) and $ 88 million (Doctor strange) and an amount probably greater / less than $ 200 million (taking into account the Disney + variable) for Black Widow.
Conversely, maybe Marvel is Marvel in Hell or the High Seas. Black Widow is one of the original Avengers, and her End of Game death can make this more of a booster as opposed to what might otherwise have been a palette cleaner between the third Captain America and the third Avengers movie. She might not be as popular in the world as Spider-Man or Iron Man, but Black Widow isn’t a newbie introduced with a conventional origin story. Even in the absence of levels of hype similar to Captain Marvel or Black Panther, that would still be the first big hit of the summer in 2020. This slot which has not given a lower opening (adjusted for inflation) of less than $ 100 million since the first Thor ($ 65 million in 2011 / $ 75 million adjusted).
In this scenario “Marvel is Marvel, Black Widow is still popular and Scarlett Johansson is still a star”, yes, an opening tied with Thor: Ragnarok ($ 123 million in 2017 for a possible national income of $ 335 million / $ 854 million worldwide) or Spider-Man: Homecoming ($ 116 million / $ 334 million / $ 881 million) would be likely. As the first big hit of the summer (which can be preloaded for Marvel … see Civil war and Iron man 3), we would have expected a domestic finish above or below $ 300 million. And that would have been great for this “standalone” offering, especially assuming a conventional 35/65 domestic / overseas split for a finish of over $ 800 million. Damn, Ant-Man 2 ($ 216 million domestic and $ 620 million worldwide) and Doctor strange ($ 238 million / $ 677 million) gross receipts would / will be fine as long as people like the movie.
So looking at a Covid curve, and with the movie being available to rent on Disney + for $ 30, we’re still looking at a nationwide start of between $ 80 million and $ 110 million this weekend. It is possible that the film played as Thor 3 but will now have to “be content” to play as Ant-Man 2 due to “current normal”, but I would say the triumphs mentioned above mean that Black Widow does not need to be rated on that heavy Covid curve. No matter Black Widow would have won nationally in May 2020 (without Covid but in the middle of a crowded market) may be close to what it earns in July 2021 (with Covid but apparently unopposed), give or take repeat business, strong competition in mid-July and / or Disney +.
Will Black Widow to be the first nationwide opener of over $ 100 million since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in December 2019? Will this be the first domestic crude over $ 200 million since Bad boys for life in January 2020? In early 2020, I assumed that F9 would be the world’s biggest gross of the year (obviously without the Chinese mega-films at the time) with Black Widow neck and neck around the world with a probable national champion Wonder Woman 1984. Now in mid-2020 I guess F9 will reign over summer (among Hollywood movies) while Spider-Man: No Path Home has the best chance of ruling the year and being the next billion dollars bigger. As to where Black Widow Part of the big (and slow) theatrical revival of 2021, well, check out this space.