On July 2, 2019, Spider-Man: Far From Home premiered in theaters across the globe. Two years later, Black Widow will bring the MCU back to the big screen when it debuts this year on July 9.
After being pushed from May 1, 2020 to several release dates due to the global pandemic, Scarlett Johansson's solo film is finally coming to theaters and Disney+'s Premier Access.
A lot has changed since the US went on lockdown last 2020, especially in the film industry. Now all Warner Bros. films this year release in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously, Paramount films like F9 and A Quiet Place Part II will be streaming on their service after 45 days in theaters, and Disney is giving fans an option for some movies to pay $30 to watch from their couch.
After the largest box office year ever in 2019, general audiences rushing out to a theater in 2021 is far from guaranteed. We're about halfway through the year and predicting the box office is still a gauge, especially when you consider the streaming infiltration of how films are released.
However, there have been a few guinea pigs in the first half of this year to help predict how well Black Widow will perform.
LEARNING FROM F9 AND CRUELLA
Plenty of films have released so far this year, but there are four species to focus on when discussing the box office: Godzilla vs. Kong, A Quiet Place Part II, Cruella, and F9.
Kong v. Godzilla opened in theaters and began streaming to HBO Max on March 31, acting as a theatrical litmus test. The clash of monsters brought in over $31 million domestically at its opening weekend. To date, it has made just over $100 million domestically and nearly $443 million worldwide.
For the franchise, this was actually an improvement over Godzilla: King of The Monsters which only grossed $386.6 globally. However, previous installments Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island both made over $500 million worldwide. All things considered, Godzilla vs. Kong was a studio success and a sign of a promising 2021.
Then fast-forward to May 28 when A Quiet Place Part II and Cruella both premiered. Part II set a new domestic opening weekend box office record for 2021 with $47.5 million. This was the first major movie of the year to not be paired with a day-and-date streaming counterpart.
A film that did release on a streaming service was Emma Stone's Cruella. It overshot many analysts' predictions by making about $21 million over its opening weekend ($27 million including Memorial Day). According to SambaTV, Cruella brought in 686,000 U.S. households to Disney+ over the four-day Memorial Day weekend, translating to roughly $20.57 million.
These streaming numbers aren't official and should be viewed as an estimate, but in general Disney's day-and-date model appeared to be successful.
The film many were waiting for, F9 just cruised into theaters with a $70 million domestic opening weekend, the highest mark since 2019's Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker. One factor in F9's initial success is that AMC Theaters recently lifted all capacity restrictions to their theaters in the US.
John Cena's inaugural Fast film has already made $335.5 internationally thanks to the film opening in some major markets like China as early as May.
The Fast and Furious franchise is known for being a cash cow in the film industry, Furious 7 and Fate of the Furious were both billion-dollar movies. While F9 is unlikely to gross $1 billion over its theatrical lifetime, its opening weekend performed better than comic book films like Aquaman and X-Men: Apocalypse.
The first comic book film to be released in theaters since Wonder Woman 1984's mid-pandemic Christmas release, Black Widow is looking to compete with previous MCU films openings.
MCU BOX OFFICE HISTORY
Marvel Studios is arguably the most successful movie studio in the history of cinema. The MCU has raked in $22.59 billion over its first 23 movies, first among any other film franchise.
Nine of the 23 films have passed the $1 billion mark, Avengers: Endgame most famously (briefly) passed Avatar for the highest-grossing film of all-time with just under $2.8 billion globally.
Up until now, the MCU has only had one female-led film, Captain Marvel. The 2019 origin movie starring Brie Larson made over $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office, an incredible performance for a film that's divisive amongst fans.
Black Widow will be the beginning of the MCU's 11th solo franchise. Here's how the first 10 solo/origin films performed at the domestic box office opening weekend:
- Iron Man — $98.6 million
- The Incredible Hulk — $55.4 million
- Thor — $65.7
- Captain America: The First Avenger — $65 million
- Guardians of the Galaxy — $94.3 million
- Ant-Man — $57.2 million
- Doctor Strange — $85 million
- Spider-Man: Homecoming — $117 million
- Black Panther — $202 million
- Captain Marvel — $153.4 million
Overall, these are spectacular returns for first-time live-action characters, especially Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel. It's hard to imagine that more people rushed out to see Carol Danvers than Peter Parker, but the box office can often be a fickle business.
Only two of these films, Ant-Man and The Incredible Hulk, have made less than $60 million in their opening weekend. However, the buzz around those two films wasn't near the hype surrounding Black Widow.
Even in a world still fighting against the pandemic, Black Widow has its heights set on numbers akin to Doctor Strange or possibly even Guardians of the Galaxy.
HOW BLACK WIDOW IS TRACKING
Box Office Pro has given their opening weekend and cumulative domestic box office forecast. According to them, Black Widow is tracking to make a range of $80-110 million opening weekend and $205-310 million total domestically.
Box Office Pro's Shawn Dawson cites Black Widow's pre-ticket sales, social media interaction, and positive reviews as three reasons to feel optimistic about the film's box office potential. Some factors they say may work against the movie's performance are those who watch on Disney+ for $30, restricted theater capacity, and the possibility of Marvel fatigue.
Considering all the factors brought to the table, here's the final prediction.
BLACK WIDOW BOX OFFICE PREDICTION
After the biggest break in the MCU since 2008's The Incredible Hulk, and 2010's Iron Man 2, Black Widow is somewhat of a box office wild card. Sprinkle in a pandemic and a day-and-date streaming option, and it's become a real mess to figure out.
In light of all the variables, an exact prediction has been made.
Starting July 9, Black Widow will gross $95 million during its opening weekend and total $225 million during its domestic release.
This would equate to the best opening of the year so far and likely the highest total domestic earnings until a juggernaut like Venom, Eternals, or Spider-Man: No Way Home reigns supreme later this year.
Both of these predictions are slightly less than the highest range of Box Office Pro's forecast, but still would be a major step towards box office normalcy. These predictions also reflect that fans will rush out to see this opening weekend but may not have the rewatchability and some previous films as it is also available on Disney+ Premier Access.
Stayed tuned on Sunday, July 11 for the weekend box office report to see how well Scarlett Johansson's solo film performs.
Will you be contributing to the Black Widow box office on July 9? Or watching from the comfort of your home?