After almost two years since Marvel Studios' last debuted one of its legendary blockbuster films, Black Widow is finally playing in most theaters around the world. The Scarlett Johansson-led spy thriller saw the actress finally star in a solo outing for her Russian Avenger, marking her final MCU appearance.
Despite the success of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, the recovery of the theater industry continues to be an uphill battle as major releases struggle to match up with pre-pandemic box office figures.
Last week, Black Widow debuted in theaters as the biggest release since the pandemic began in March 2020, but going into its second weekend, things are looking a little less promising for Marvel's latest film.
BLACK WIDOW SUFFERS IN ITS SECOND WEEKEND
A report from Forbes has revealed that despite the opening weekend box office success of Black Widow, the Scarlett Johansson-starring flick has suffered the harshest second-week drop in MCU history. Having earned $26.3 million in US theaters across weekend two, the ten-day gross of the spy thriller has rested at $132 million domestically.
The film's second Friday in theaters saw a terrifying 79% drop, putting it on an even worse path than box office disappointments Fantastic Four and Batman V Superman. Fortunately, the rest of the weekend saw a substantial improvement to 67%.
Prior to this week, the unfortunate Marvel box office record was held by both Ant-Man and the Wasp and Spider-Man: Homecoming, both having suffered a tough 62% decrease in gross. As a point of reference, Marvel Studios' last two-billion-dollar grossing solo films, Spider-Man: Far From Home and Captain Marvel, dropped by 51% and 54%.
Internationally, Marvel's spy thriller earned another $29.9 million, bringing the overseas gross to $132 million for a total of $264 million worldwide, as of July 18.
UNFORTUNATE BUT NOT EXPECTED?
After such a profitable opening weekend at the box office, it's unfortunate to see Black Widow fall so far so quickly — and not for the first time. However, the drastic drop-off was certainly expected by many and has a logical explanation for it.
Despite the progress being made in vaccinations, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to affect theater capacities, the number of open theaters, and many fans' willingness to go to their local theater.
As the world readapts to a life closer to normality, the recovery of the movie-going industry continues to be a tough battle as over 20% of theaters in the United States remain closed. Even with so many moviegoers now vaccinated, it's certain to take some time before audiences are ready to return to packed auditoriums.
With the unpredictability of the virus, it's hard to imagine what could be the next billion-dollar release. Many have predicted that December's Spider-Man: No Way Home could be the next to join the prestigious club based on the anticipation surrounding the late 2021 release.
Given Black Widow's simultaneous Disney+ Premier Access release, which resulted in some impressive figures last weekend, that ability to view the blockbuster at home may also be hindering the box office success. Unlike last week, Disney opted not to publish the streaming revenue of the film this week, likely down to a similar decline to what was experienced in theaters.
So far, the international box office gross for Scarlett Johansson's final MCU outing appears to be doing reasonably well for a pandemic release, however, it ought to be a significant boost in several weeks' time.
Marvel's latest theatrical release has notably yet to release in the influential Chinese market following a surprise delay due to an ongoing political celebration in the country. An updated release date has yet to be set for the Chinese Mainland, but it isn't expected to hit the country's theaters until mid-August at the earliest.
Over the years, popularity in the Chinese market has become increasingly critical to the blockbuster success of a Hollywood release, making the delay extremely unfortunate for Black Widow's first few weeks.
As of now, it's too early to predict where Black Widow's worldwide box office will level off when it completes its theatrical run. While restrictions around the world will certainly make it one of the lowest-grossing in the MCU, it still has the potential to be the biggest film since the pandemic began.
Black Widow is in theaters now but can alternatively be purchased on Disney+ Premier Access.