Black Widow did not do consistently well at the box office, theaters blame Disney

Black Widow was released two weekends ago. I have since watched it on my Premier Access on Disney+ more than three times, I have enjoyed it that much. Florence Pugh was the absolute star of the movie. Despite the fact that Black Widow had the highest grossing opening weekend since the panorama began, folks are frothing about how badly Black Widow has been performing at the box office. NATO, the National Association of Theatre Owners, is big mad at Marvel and Disney for their dual roll-out. Black Widow’s ticket sales plummeted by 67% in its second weekend. NATO feels that Disney releasing Black Widow on their streaming service the same day as its release in the theatres cut into theatre profits. Disney countered that this is their new strategy during the pandemic. Below are a few more details via IGN:

According to The Hollywood Reporter, NATO attributed Black Widow’s “stunning collapse in its second weekend in theatrical revenues” to Disney’s day-and-date release strategy, which meant the MCU Phase 4 movie was available at home and
on the big screen on the same day, July 9. Ultimately, NATO said this decision undermined Black Widow’s box office performance.

“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 in a statement provided in a press release this past weekend.

As the first movie of MCU’s Phase 4, Black Widow is the most recent Marvel release to debut in theaters. It achieved the largest US box office opening since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and it earned more than $215 million globally. The movie also opened to more than $60 million on Disney+ with Premier Access, which helped to push its global haul past $200m.

However, the following weekend, Black Widow fell to the second spot at the box office, having pulled in a total of $26.3 million in the US for the July 16-18 weekend. The movie’s box office total suffered a 67 percent decline, which THR noted as “one of the biggest drops ever for a Marvel title, and the worst among the Marvel Cinematic Universe films released by Disney.”

“The many questions raised by Disney’s limited release of streaming data opening weekend are being rapidly answered by Black Widow’s disappointing and anomalous performance,” NATO stated. “The most important answer is that simultaneous release is a pandemic-era artifact that should be left to history with the pandemic itself.”

NATO also considered how much revenue will be lost to piracy, saying “Black Widow was the most torrented movie for the week ending July 12″ because “pristine digital copies became available within minutes of release on Disney+.” They highlighted this as being another factor that has no doubt affected Black Widow’s box office performance.

[From IGN]

All these people care about are their profits. I am not sure why this is even a story seeing that the weekend that Black Widow came out we had Delta variant outbreaks and a spike in Covid cases. Under the circumstances, I believe that Black Widow has done well and I think people are hesitant to put their health on the line to see a movie. Disney’s strategy is smart. I understand that movie theaters will get the shaft in this situation but unfortunately that is the way the cake crumbles during a pandemic. It also feels like NATO was banking on Black Widow to help theaters bounce back. I do hope we got back to drive-in theaters and perhaps NATO should start reevaluating its strategy and leave Marvel alone. Hopefully, next year if we have gotten Covid under control we can return to movies en masse.

I enjoyed watching Black Widow at home with my homemade popcorn and drinks. I also hope that Marvel and Disney do not see the sluggish numbers as an indictment of women-led films. Under normal circumstances, Black Widow would have done quite well in theatres. I hope Marvel and Disney continue to roll out movies like this. In the meantime, I am going to watch Black Widow again and enjoy Florence Pugh as Yelena. I think we are seeing another star in the making.



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60 Responses to “Black Widow did not do consistently well at the box office, theaters blame Disney”

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  1. Lightpurple says:

    People still aren’t willing to sit in a closed space next to hundreds of strangers for two hours.

    Florence Pugh’s Yelena is the reason to see the film. And the reason to watch Hawkeye when it airs. She’s hilarious and fierce.

    • Merricat says:


    • Seraphina says:

      Count me in as one of those people. I never liked sitting in the dark with strangers to begin with; COVID just adds to my issues. Plus, what could be better then lounging on my own sofa and pausing the movie when I want.

      • Erica says:

        Exactly how I feel. I drink a lot of water therefore I pee a lot. I had to pause Black Widow 3x so I could use the bathroom LOL

    • Mgsota says:

      We saw in the theaters even though I have Disney+. I wanted to support the theaters, we’ve always enjoyed going. When we went to see Cruella in the theater we had the assigned reclining seats and they were doing two seats between every group, well we walked into Black Widow and the entire theater was packed! I felt really uncomfortable since I live in a state with one of the lowest vaccination records…ugh!

    • Seaflower says:


    • Dutch says:

      Steep week to week drops like this are going to be the common thing as long as same day streaming is available. Second week viewers are generally people who are going to see the theater for a multiple viewing or people who waited to see if the movie was “good” before making the commitment to go out (babysitters, etc.) The streaming option gobbles up a lot of both audiences. I saw BW in IMAX on Saturday and bought it on D+ on Sunday knowing I wanted to see it again but now could revisit it at my leisure.

    • Vavavoom says:

      Definitely! I agree about the theatre – goers being nervous about the pandemic still.
      Florence Pugh was so good. We have only watched it once, but I keep telling my husband we need to watch it again (he agrees!). She was cute, funny, charming, adorable and smart.. and a great actress all around. I was so impressed. I also loved the family story and the whole cast. Casting was Perfect in this one!
      I was so impressed with Pugh, that I will bite my lip and sit through Hawkeye, even though I despise Jeremy Renner. LOL

    • bonobochick says:

      Yep. I saw Black Widow in IMAX at an earlier time than usual (4p) last Wednesday after seeing on my AMC app how packed it was for opening weekend. There were maybe 40 ppl in the theater out of like 350+ seats, so perfect.

      Same with Fast 9, except I waited 2 weeks and mid-week to watch it. Saw it in the same IMAX theater as Black Widow with about 30 other ppl that time. (I am in NYC)

      Folks are coming back to theaters but they’re not rushing back from what i can tell. Some definitely feel more comfy staying home and streaming movies. Plus to me, ppl like to see blockbusters in theaters, esp in the summer, and it’s pretty thin on that currently.

  2. Darla says:

    I don’t know if Suicide Squad is theatre-only, it’s being released the first week of August. I want to see it and would pay 30 bucks for it, I did for Black Widow too. I may go to the theatre for it though. I’m so torn.

    • Lawcatb says:

      Suicide Squad is Warner Brothers, so I believe it’s releasing on HBO Max simultaneously, which is the only reason I may see it opening weekend.

  3. E.D says:

    Well in Australia, 13 million people are back on lockdown – again – so it’s Disney + ‘Premier Access’ or nothing down here.

    I might watch this tonight now you’re all saying how good Florence Pugh is in it. I absolutely love her!

    • Grant says:

      If you’re a Florence stan you DEFINITELY need to see this. Florence is just magnetic. She has a bright future in the MCU and beyond ahead of her.

  4. Stellainnh says:

    I personally will not watch any more Marvel or Star Wars movie because they are now owned by Disney.

    That company has grown too big and continues to gobble up everything.

    • Vavavoom says:

      But it was so good! :)

    • It’sJustBlanche says:

      I have no issue with Disney (okay, they also pay my bills as a vendor of mine). They’re a great company and as far as big companies go and have been pretty progressive since the late 80s.

      Also Florence Pugh was AMAZING and will make a great Black Widow. Had no idea who she was but she was the best part of that movie (also, the guy who played Alexei).

      • Vavavoom says:

        She definitely was the best part of the movie. Fantastic. I also loved all the female fight scenes. It was choreographed well and so fun to watch.

    • maa says:

      The so-called media monopolies are nothing compared to pharmaceutical or technological monopolies, which are really something we should all worry about.

      I mean, I don’t like Disney and I’m tired of superhero films, but that’s a dumb reason not to watch them. If monopolies worry you, there are better ways to fight against them than not watching a Marvel film lmao

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        They’re all bad in the same ways. Disney just has far better packaging.

        Why criticize their choice of protest? Geez.

  5. Erica says:

    I watched it at home and I was thankful that Disney is doing the streaming along with releasing in theaters. I am vaccinated but I have zero desire to go to a movie theater these days. Also, I freaking loved Black Widow and you are correct about Florence-she stole the show!

  6. taris says:

    as much as i appreciate being able to watch movies from the comfort of my bed on my laptop, i really hope the rise of streaming doesn’t mean that theaters are not dying. i do so like going to the movies once in a while.
    i understand that people (myself included) may not want to be cramped up in theaters right now with covid still raging, so for now streaming alongside theater releases is not a terrible idea.
    but, in the long term, maybe movies get streamed only after their theatrical runs?

    • Erica says:

      I honestly hated going to theaters even before covid. I find people to be so rude there, they act like they are in their living rooms. Talking throughout the movie, talking on the phone (!), one of the last times I went a group of 3 came in to the movie late, one was on the phone and I’m not kidding throughout the movie they kept getting up and going out and coming back with food and drinks. Back and forth probably 6 times. I know movie theater employees don’t get paid enough to deal with the idiots in public but I’m also not going to ask people to have a little bit of respect (you know, I’m in America, guns are always at the back of my mind). They finally left before the movie even ended. I honestly don’t know why they even went to the movies LOL So I am glad they are allowing movies to be streamed from our homes.

      • taris says:

        yeah, not all movie going experiences are great, for sure. but some movies (like marvel movies) are meant to be seen on the big screen.

      • Kelly says:

        I went to the theater for this one. They were out of probably 90% of snacks, the drinks machines were all out, the theater itself smelled like BO and the bathrooms were nasty. I liked being able to see this on the big screen but the overall experience sucked and that was not Disney’s fault, it was the fault of the theater.

      • Grant says:

        I always go to Alamo Drafthouse here in Texas, they have strict guidelines forbidding talking/phone use, etc.

  7. Gil says:

    I went to see it this weekend at the movie theater. I loved it. I kinda feel “safe” at the movie theater because mask are mandatory in Japan. Besides the visual effect are totally worth it.

  8. Becks1 says:

    So I guess the issue isn’t the debut numbers, because 215 million during a pandemic is really good IMO, but the big drop for the second weekend – and I do think that can be attributed to the streaming. The people who were really into seeing it saw it at the theater the first weekend, and everyone else is either streaming it or going to wait. I’m in the latter group, and honestly at this point I’m sick of paying for premier access for movies, so I’m just going to wait until its available on Disney Plus as part of the regular streaming service. But in normal times, people who maybe are thinking “I’ll see it but not opening weekend” would have no choice but to go to the theater at some point to see it if they want to see it sooner rather than later.

    • Larelyn says:

      I’m with you! My family is fully drunk on the Marvel/Disney/StarWars koolaid, but we were hit financially during this pandemic. We are happy to give them our monthly subscription for regular ol’ Disney+, but forget the premier subscription. I guess we could pay the $30 extra just to see (or own?) it through our current Disney+ subscription, but again, forget that. We will wait until October 6 to stream it for no additional charge. I really don’t like how entertainment is becoming so piecemeal with all these exclusive streaming requirements. I know we aren’t the only ones giving a hard pass to subscriptions and premier fees – I wonder how these consumer choices will play out in the long-term for the industry?

      • Nicole says:

        Same here @ Larelyn. In fact, we just looked up when all of the Disney movies would be available on Disney+ and how long we’d have to wait. We feel the monthly subscription is well worth it, but we’re not convinced that paying an additional $30 for a movie is. Don’t get me wrong, we love having the option to watch it at home, but for us financially, we just can’t make it work yet.

      • Babz says:

        As a retiree on a low fixed income, I just don’t want to pay an extra $30 for a movie. The yearly enrollment is a treat for me, and I also have mobility issues, so that’s my entertainment. I would normally go to the theater, but I am not comfortable yet with being in big groups even though I’m vaccinated and still mask when I’m around people I don’t know. I will either wait it out until October 6th, or if the numbers don’t spike too badly here, go to the theater later. I usually do Tuesday afternoons (senior discount day) but for movies like this, I’ve found that the audience is good sized, made up of nerd retirees like me! And, in the back of my mind, the gun thing lurks. This is a large gun area – several of those who were at the Capitol on 1/6 were from here, and arrested. That takes a lot of the theater-going pleasure away for me. I can’t wait to see the movie, though – I became a big fan of Florence Pugh when I watched Little Women last year.

  9. Oh_Hey says:

    They wrote a movie about an already dead character that happens in the past to introduce her new version and did it during covid.

    It’s not exactly a mystery as to why this isn’t performing like other marvel movies.

    • Sigmund says:

      I mean, I think it’s partly that for me. I’ll see the movie on D+ eventually, and I don’t want to go to a theatre during a pandemic anyway, but I sort of feel like I’ve made peace with Natasha’s death, and it feels weird to go back and watch a movie with her in it, knowing how the character’s arc ends. Idk. I think I’d have been more excited about this film before she died.

    • Becks1 says:

      I agree with this. I’ve heard the movie is really good, but I’m just not that interested since we know how Natasha’s storyline ends. Had this movie come out in between Infinity War and Endgame, I think I would be more interested.

      I’m also sort of annoyed that we get the backstory of one of the most prominent women in the marvel universe after we get three Thors, two Ant Mans, etc.

      • Humbugged says:

        Blame Ike Perlmutter for that he was in charge of what was to be made and he was no women sell action figures he also blocked Black Panther until they removed him and left Feige in charge

    • Grant says:

      I don’t think it’s performing worse than other Marvel movies; it was never going to pull in typical Marvel numbers due to COVID. Also, the streaming numbers last weekend were massive.

  10. Jekelly says:

    My husband loves going to the movies, I on the other hand would rather sit at home and watch one. Here in MA going to the moves ends up being way more then the 29.99$ on Disney +. Also, I can’t wait to see black widow!

  11. Willow says:

    10 years ago where we lived in Minnesota was one of the few remaining drive in movie theaters in the state. It was only open part of the year, but people would drive from miles away just to watch a movie there. It was always packed. There was an open field on the side where the kids ran around and people threw balls before the movie started. People who didn’t want to sit in their cars would sit there on lawn chairs. If you had a truck or SUV, you could bring sleeping bags and pillows and pile in the back. The snack stand was constantly busy because you could stand in the food line and still watch the movie. The kids usually fell asleep halfway through the 1st movie, so we could stay for the R rated one.
    I wish movie theaters would bring outdoor movies back. They are going to have to be creative to survive and can’t rely on production companies to help them out. Just staying with what they always done isn’t going to work. Covid, facemasks, etc, is not going away.

  12. Marissa says:

    I love the option for premier access in D+. It makes movies so accessible for those who couldn’t go to a theater before and had to wait months or years to enjoy new films. Whether that was because it was cost prohibitive ($10+ per ticket, plus the insane price of snacks for a family of four is a LOT) or because family members couldn’t sit through the film in a theater setting, this is so much more inclusive and I hope this option sticks around forever and that other companies get on board as well.

  13. sherry says:

    Ok, folks, this movie isn’t that great.
    Scarlett mumbles her way through it, and the whole family-in-conflict thing has been done a million times before.

  14. FHMom says:

    My family ventured to the theater to watch this on Sunday. First time in a theater in about 18 months. The theater had reclining seats that need to be reserved. I brought my wipes and cleaned each chair and arm rest. We loved, loved, loved it. The theater was pretty empty for a Sunday.

  15. sunny says:

    I also think part of the challenge is that we are getting a Black Widow movie so late in the Marvel universe. Like it is a stand alone and doesn’t build to anything because they greenlit it so late and that diminishes excitement for the project. Between that and the pandemic release strategy of course sales would be a challenge.

    • Darla says:

      Yeah, I think Spider-Man coming in Dec will be the real test. People are still really invested in Holland’s Spider-Man. I am really interested in seeing what happens with Shang-Chi and the Eternals also coming this year though. I’m not sure how those will do in current circumstances. It’ll be interesting.

      • sunny says:

        I can’t wait to see what they do with Eternals. Also I love Holland’s Spiderman so much as it is the only version to capture the fact that Peter Parker is a kid and I think Holland has a great ability to play both Peter Parker and Spiderman. I think those films have good prospects if public confidence is up by then.

  16. Imara219 says:

    I might watch when it’s free. Finally saw Raya with my 4 yo. We loved it but I would never have spent 30 bucks for it. I planned to go see Snake Eyes and Paw Patrol in theaters. If it doesn’t work out Paramount + will have Paw Patrol for home release and I’ll wait for Snake Eyes, no big deal. The only marvel property I want to see is the next Ant Man probably Captain Marvel and maybe Doctor Strange.

  17. Talita says:

    As much as love the character, it feels more like a tribute movie than anything else. I’m definitely gonna watch it at some point but I wouldn’t run to the theaters during a pandemic for this one.

  18. Songs (Or it didnt happen) says:

    Black Widow should have been a miniseries. Not that the character didn’t deserve her own film, but it seems like the story they chose to tell could have worked better as several episodes and more time to focus on what the characters are doing before and after Natasha shows up. Anyone else agree?

  19. FilmTurtle says:

    The industry and the industry press (most of it) refuse to accept that life is just different now. They want to go back to making profit hand-over-fist with audiences having no options. COVID changed all of that. People still want to watch movies but many/most are happy to watch it at home. But, of course, they’re going to go after the female-led film instead of looking at the larger picture.

  20. Case says:

    One, this movie wasn’t as anticipated as a lot of other Marvel movies (she’s dead and not as beloved as some other characters). Two, there’s a freaking airborne pandemic. What did they expect? They need to accept that nothing is the same anymore, and you can’t force “normal.”

    • Grant says:

      I disagree. This movie was hugely anticipated b/c she’s an OG Avenger and the movie was long-overdue. I can’t count the number of articles I’ve read before this movie’s release basically calling out Marvel for not giving BW her own standalone movie. And saying a character isn’t as beloved as some of the others is so subjective. I love BW, she’s my favorite Avenger next to Scarlet Witch. I attribute this drop more to the pandemic than anything.

  21. LizzyTish says:

    We saw it in the theaters this weekend. Pre-pandemic we went to the movies almost every Friday, so we are happy to be back and to support an industry that was hit so hard during the pandemic. We live in MA, a place with relatively high vaccination and low cases, and the theater lets you pre-select your seats, so we picked ones that were not near anyone else. The theater was maybe 25% full, and someone still came and sat right next to us! We moved our seats to put space between us, but it is so strange to me that after everything that has happened this past year and a half, people still lack spatial awareness!

  22. Theothermia says:

    I watched it in theatres with a mask on. I’m vaccinated. Loved the movie. Totally cried

    I loved the movie but it should have come out in 2017, chronologically, before the last avengers movie. The fact that it didn’t shows that this movie was literally an afterthought, a response to the sexism murmurs. It sucks knowing how poorly served the character is in other MCU films. On NPR, a critic said this movie was like watching a video of the best birthday party you’ve ever been to, and the birthday kid is dead. The only female avenger goes from sex object to emotional labour (hulk) to afterthought. DO BETTER, MCU. BE MORE LIKE DC ANIMATION.

  23. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Theaters can suck it.

  24. Ferdinand says:

    In all seriousness, I’d watch it at home but the price in Mexico is beyond ridiculous. I don’t know how much people are charged in the US to watch it at home but here in Mx with that money I could easily buy the movie in Blu-ray once it is for sale. It’d be cheaper to go to the movie theater , get a big combo of snacks to see the movie and even buy some fast food for dinner afterwards.

    So, yeah.. I’ll wait out another month until Disney plus has it for free on their platform

  25. Ann says:

    I don’t go to the theater unless I am dying to see the movie right away or it is one that has to be seen on the big screen. I suppose Marvel movies are Big Screen types, but I’m not into them so if I watched I’d be doing it at home because someone else in the family chose it.

    They should accept that streaming is just a thing now. Theater attendance will bounce back more and more as we get Covid under control, but some people just prefer to watch from the comfort of home, be able to pause the movie to use the bathroom or get a snack, and not pay a fortune for popcorn.

  26. maa says:

    I’m definitely projecting when I say: Maybe people are finally getting tired of these films?

    I used to like them and when I started growing tired of them I went “well, I won’t watch them, let others enjoy them tho” but the way they’ve changed mainstream media for the worst cannot be ignored.

    Maybe the general audience is growing tired of the superhero genre as it is, which is great and could bring forth true innovation for the genre or have the mainstream finally move to something else.

  27. The Recluse says:

    We saw it in the theater. We’re both vaccinated and wear masks going in and out and when we’re not having popcorn. We felt like we needed to, because if we don’t support our theater, we could lose it. That would force us to drive over 70 miles to El Paso or Las Cruces to see a movie otherwise.

  28. Mina_Esq says:

    On a related note, I just found out yesterday that we can UberEats popcorn from the nearby movie theatre. So maybe we can do both – stay safe watching BW from home AND put some $ in the theatres’ pockets :)