Black Widow didn’t stay atop the box office for long. As reported by Variety, Space Jam: A New Legacy managed to beat out Marvel’s latest this weekend in a surprise victory. Despite poor critical reviews, the LeBron James-led, family-friendly sequel earned $31.6 million in its opening weekend.
Analysts had expected Black Widow to keep the top spot in its second weekend after earning a pandemic-best $80.3 million opening weekend. But it stumbled in a major way, taking in just $26.3 million in its second weekend. That represents the biggest week-to-week drop in history for a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. It represents a massive 67 percent plunge.
There is, potentially, a great deal of blame to go around. For one, the pandemic is still ongoing despite increased vaccination rates. That is a factor. But the bigger facto seems to be Disney’s decision to also release Scarlett Johansson’s first solo MCU film on Disney+ Premier Access as well. This allows Disney+ subscribers to watch the movie from home for an additional $30. Per Disney, it earned $60 million from Premier Access rentals in its first weekend.
Here is the synopsis for Black Widow.
“In Marvel Studios’ action-packed spy thriller ‘Black Widow,’ Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.”
The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) released a statement firmly blaming the Disney+ release for the steep drop-off. The organization exists to protect exhibitors and Disney’s decision may have cost theater owners a lot of money.
“Despite assertions that this pandemic-era improvised release strategy was a success for Disney and the simultaneous release model, it demonstrates that an exclusive theatrical release means more revenue for all stakeholders in every cycle of the movie’s life,” NATO said.
“Early analysis pointed at the $60 million in Premiere Access revenue and compared it to the domestic theatrical of $80 million and declared it a success, especially because Disney keeps every dollar of home release,” NATO adds. “ It does not. Approximately 15% of revenue goes to the various platforms through which consumers access Disney+. It ignores that Premiere Access revenue is not new-found money, but was pulled forward from a more traditional PVOD window, which is no longer an option.”
To date, Black Widow has earned just $232.3 million worldwide. It also does not have a release secured in China. Given its massive budget, and the generally high expectations that an MCU movie has to shoulder, this could be a disaster for the studio.
Cate Shortland directed the movie. The cast includes Johansson. David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle and Rachel Weisz.
Black Widow is in theaters now.