The MCU's latest film, Black Widow, was the first and possibly only Marvel Studios movie to release day-and-date on Disney+ via Premier Access.
Disney announced the opening weekend earnings on Disney+, a first for films released in theaters and Premier Access. Black Widow made $80 million at the domestic box office and $60 million worldwide on Disney+.
This is the highest-grossing opening weekend so far in 2021, but the narrative has completely shifted since then. Black Widow suffered the biggest drop (67%) in MCU history during its second weekend.
Many would argue that this release strategy is not sustainable and will not be the standard going forward. With the film already technically out on a streaming service, Disney has made another irregular business decision for Black Widow.
BLACK WIDOW GETS DIGITAL AND BLU-RAY RELEASE DATE
The Hollywood Reporter's Borys Kit Tweeted that Black Widow will be available for purchase on all digital platforms on August 10, 2021. On September 14, 2021, physical 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD copies will hit the market.
These digital and hard copy versions will include a blooper reel, nine deleted scenes, and three different featurettes.
Disney previously revealed that Scarlett Johansson's solo film would be available at no additional cost on Disney+ by October 6 of this year.
2019's Spider-Man: Far From Home was released in theaters on July 2, its digital purchase went on sale September 17, and Blu-Ray was available October 1. Black Widow's digital release is particularly early, just over a month after its premiere.
THE NEW AT-HOME STANDARD?
The new plan for Disney films after Black Widow and Jungle Cruise is a 45-day theater exclusive release. Previously, films had roughly 90 days exclusively in theaters. Paramount and Universal have already begun releasing films like A Quiet Place Part II and F9 in a 45-day theatrical release window.
Marvel Studios' next film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, is one of the first to be released with this new format.
Disney has not revealed where the films will go after 45 days, whether on Disney+ or available for digital and hard copy purchase. Either way, no one knows if this 45-day window will be in place forever or the studios will go back to 90 days when the pandemic is in the rearview mirror.
Nevertheless, many people around the world may be hesitant to return to the theaters soon and prefer watching new movies from home. The box office over the next six months should indicate a lot of the future of Hollywood and the movie theater industry.
Either way, the 45-day theater exclusivity is still favorable for at-home viewers. They now don't have to wait as long and should be less motivated to go to a theater if it was the standard 90-day window.
No movie studio is handling the pandemic the exact same and probably will not continue to in the future. By late 2022 and 2023, it will be interesting to see what changes due to the pandemic stick and what reverts to normal.
Heading out to the theater or watching from home?
Black Widow is currently streaming on Disney+ via Premier Access and playing in theaters worldwide.