Black Widow Passes F9 to Lead 2021 Domestic Box Office

Photo Credit: ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved. ("Black Widow")

Disney’s Black Widow topped the year’s domestic box office on Wednesday, now standing at a $169.7M tally, just ahead of Universal’s F9 with $169.6M.

Starring Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh and directed by Cate Shortland, the superhero sequel debuted to an $80.3M theatrical opening weekend, the largest of the post-pandemic era. Then it claimed the steepest second-weekend percentage drop ever for a Marvel Studios title with -67.8 percent, eclipsing 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming with -62.2 percent.

That prompted the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) to issue a statement denouncing Black Widow‘s day-and-date release model, under which it premiered simultaneously in cinemas and for a $30 surcharge on Disney+. However, the film’s drops have only lessened from there, coming in at -55.0 percent for its third frame and and -44.3 percent for its fourth frame.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, is Black Widow likely to retain its crown? Spider-Man: No Way Home seems by far the most likely contender to dethrone it, although as a mid-December release it may do so at some point in January or even February 2022, with Black Widow still leading the 2021 box office by midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Other possible, if unlikely, candidates include:

  • Fellow Marvel releases Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Both serve as the first appearances for their respective characters, rather than a follow-up like Black Widow, which are often more lucrative than original installments.
  • Top Gun: Maverick. 1986’s original Top Gun was the highest-grossing film released that year, though the sequel seems unlikely to match that feat.
  • No Time to Die. The fifth installment featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond, the prior four installments all finished among the top 10 biggest films from their respective release years. However, none claimed the absolute top spot, with the highest being 2012’s Skyfall at #4.

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