Black Widow spun a wide web at the North American box office this weekend, which was enough to capture the largest audience of any pandemic-era release so far.
The long-awaited Disney/Marvel release grossed an estimated $80M from 4,160 theaters in its debut frame, which puts it at the lower end of industry projections heading into the weekend. Nonetheless, it scored the largest opening of the pandemic to date, not to mention the the largest opening since Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker in December 2019, thereby serving as just the latest signal of a widespread return to moviegoing in the U.S. Originally slated to debut in May 2020, the film landed on its July 9, 2021 release date after previously being postponed to November 2020 and, later, May 2021.
Disney’s postponement of Black Widow to summer 2021 turns out to have been a savvy move, as the release allowed enough time for a sizable portion of the U.S. population to be fully vaccinated and ease back into the idea of returning to movie theaters (according to a recent survey by NRG (via Deadline), 76% of consumers said they are now comfortable going back.)
Demand for Black Widow is certainly at an all-time high. Not only is it a title that Marvel fans have been clamoring to see since the release of the first Avengers, it’s the first MCU installment to have seen the light of day in over two years, with the most recent being Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 2, 2019. Though several Marvel TV series debuted on Disney+ during the pandemic, that’s the largest release-date gap in the history of the film franchise, creating a pent-up demand among fans.
The film’s hybrid release strategy (it was available day-and-date on Disney+ for a $30 surcharge) no doubt cut into the opening weekend box office somewhat, and in an unprecedented move, Disney is indicating just how much by reporting additional grosses of $60M from the film’s Disney+ premiere worldwide. The studio is factoring in those streaming numbers in order to tout that Black Widow is the first film to surpass $100M in its opening weekend during the pandemic, but of course apples-to-apples comparisons don’t really make sense in that regard given that previous pandemic-era blockbusters including F9 and A Quiet Place Part II weren’t given day-and-date releases on streaming platforms — nevermind with premium surcharges.
Streaming numbers aside, perhaps more than any other franchise, Marvel fans are drawn to seeing MCU films in a communal way, and Black Widow’s record-breaking box office this weekend proves that point pretty forcefully. It’s also the biggest event film to hit theaters since Star Wars: Episode IX in December 2019, catering to a four-quadrant audience in a way no other movie has since the start of the pandemic. Men made up the majority of the opening weekend crowd at 58% vs. 42% women, while parents with kids made up 23% of the total. The film played best with moviegoers between the ages of 18-34, a demo that represented nearly half of the opening weekend turnout.
Importantly, Black Widow was also largely a hit with critics. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is “Certified Fresh” at 80%, which is right in line with 2019’s Captain Marvel. Fans also seem largely satisfied; the film’s RT Audience Score is a super 92%, while its Cinemascore is a solid A- and its ComScore PostTrak polling came in at 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Overall, Black Widow’s opening represents a win for Disney, Marvel and movie theaters generally, demonstrating – along with fantastic debuts by F9 and A Quiet Place Part II over the past few weeks – that moviegoing is nearing a return to pre-pandemic levels.
Believe it or not, there were other titles not named Black Widow in theatrical release this weekend. After two weeks at the top of the heap, Universal’s F9 dropped 53% to second place with an estimated $10.88M, bringing the sequel to $141.33M through the end of its third weekend. F9 is running about 6% ahead of the last installment of the franchise, Hobbs & Shaw, which finished its run with $173.96M in North America.
Third place went to The Boss Baby: Family Business, which dropped 46% in its sophomore frame to an estimated $8.7M, bringing its total to $34.7M. That’s significantly less than the first film, which had $89.44M at the same point in its run, albeit in non-pandemic times and minus a day-and-date release on streaming. With the theatrical underperformance of this film and Peter Rabbit 2, however, it seems likely that many parents with unvaccinated younger children are opting to skip these films in theaters for the time being.
The Forever Purge dropped one spot to fourth place in its second weekend of release with an estimated $6.71M, a decline of 47% from its opening frame. The Universal sequel now has $27.45M to date, putting it 45% behind the last installment of the franchise, The First Purge — previously the lowest-grossing entry in the series — at the same point in its run.
A Quiet Place Part II grossed an estimated $3M in its seventh weekend of release, good for fifth place. The Paramount sequel’s total now stands at $150.69M.
Cruella came in sixth place with an estimated $2.2M in its seventh weekend, giving the Disney prequel $80.8M to date. Seventh place went to The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, which grossed an estimated $1.61M at No. 7 in its fourth weekend of release for a total of $35.01M.
The final three spots in the top 10 went to Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, In the Heights and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, which grossed an estimated $1.25M, $630k and $615k, respectively. Peter Rabbit 2 has a total of $37.7M after five weeks, In the Heights has $28.32M after five weeks and The Conjuring has $63.79M after six weeks of release.
Black Widow scored a $78.8M weekend overseas from 46 territories, a tally that doesn’t include China, where a release date has yet to be determined. Key grosses from the weekend include $12.7M in Korea, $9.7M in the UK, $6.9M in France, $5.3M in Australia and $4.8M in Mexico.
F9‘s international gross passed $400M this weekend after grossing an additional $13.61M from 51 territories, bringing its overseas total to $400.48M and its global cume to $541.8M. The Universal sequel opened to $3.1M in The Netherlands this weekend, with key openings still to come, including France (July 14), Germany (July 15), Japan (August 6) and Italy (August 18).
Universal’s The Croods: A New Age opened in five new markets this weekend including France, Germany and Belgium and took in an estimated $6.63M, bringing its overseas total to $123.37M and its global tally to $181.94M.
Sunday’s studio weekend estimates
Friday, July 9 – Sunday, July 16, 2021
[Note: estimates only include theatrical grosses, not Disney’s estimates for Black Widow‘s Disney+ revenue]
|Title||Estimated weekend||% change||Locations||Location change||Average||Total||Weekend||Distributor|
|The Boss Baby: Family Business||$8,700,000||-46%||3,688||44||$2,359||$34,746,510||2||Universal|
|The Forever Purge||$6,710,000||-47%||3,058||7||$2,194||$27,444,915||2||Universal|
|A Quiet Place Part II||$3,000,000||-27%||2,359||-467||$1,272||$150,694,295||7||Paramount|
|The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard||$1,605,000||-47%||1,904||-678||$843||$35,014,847||4||Lionsgate|
|Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway||$1,250,000||-43%||1,958||-996||$638||$37,700,004||5||Sony Pictures|
|In the Heights||$630,000||-47%||788||-617||$799||$28,317,552||5||Warner Bros.|
|The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It||$615,000||-51%||667||-1,049||$922||$63,792,753||6||Warner Bros.|
|Summer of Soul||$375,000||-42%||752||n/c||$499||$1,427,524||2||Searchlight|
|The Loneliest Whale||$41,368||75||$552||$41,368||1||Bleecker Street|
|Raya and the Last Dragon||$22,000||-48%||55||-20||$400||$54,581,899||19||Disney|