The Walt Disney Company sent out a widespread announcement that Black Widow made $215M-plus WW this weekend: Broken down, that’s $80M at the domestic box office, $78M in international box office, and over $60M in Disney+ Premier Access consumer spend globally. I understand that the latter figure skews more heavily toward US Disney+ Premier spending. This is the first time that Disney has released actual dollar figures about how their films did on Disney+.
Even with Black Widow coming in lower than industry weekend expectations, and we’ll have more on that in a bit, the MCU title easily repped the largest domestic box office opening since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and the largest domestic opening weekend since Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker in December 2019.
Disney states that the combined theatrical and Disney+ Premier Access opening makes Black Widow the only film to surpass $100M in domestic consumer spend on opening weekend since the start of the pandemic. Disney reports that the combined dollars on Black Widow‘s opening weekend marks the highest domestic opening weekend for a Marvel Cinematic Universe origin story after Black Panther ($202M 3-day) and Captain Marvel ($153.4M)
“Once again, Marvel has delivered an exceptional film to the delight of fans worldwide with Black Widow achieving numerous milestones in the current marketplace,” said Kareem Daniel, Chairman, Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, in a statement. “Black Widow’s strong performance this weekend affirms our flexible distribution strategy of making franchise films available in theaters for a true cinematic experience and, as COVID concerns continue globally, providing choice to consumers who prefer to watch at home on Disney+.”
“It’s incredible to see audiences enjoying Black Widow after two years without a new Marvel Studios film, and this spectacular opening weekend shows just how eager fans have been to see this beloved Avenger in her own story. There’s no question it’s been worth the wait – Cate Shortland, Scarlett Johansson, and the Marvel Studios team have delivered an exceptional film that continues a legacy of creative excellence as the Marvel Cinematic Universe expands and enters a new era,” added Alan Bergman, Chairman, Disney Studios Content.
MCU on Disney+ saw record premiere-watched weekends with Loki (per Samba TV), which bested the weekend of previous champ The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Disney reports that Marvel fans have streamed nearly 3 billion hours of content on Disney+.
As we say above, the majority of the $60M global Disney+ Premier spend on Black Widow leans toward domestic. And if you want to know how that hurt the pic at the weekend box office, here’s how.
Black Widow took a big fall on Saturday, earning $23.3M, which, next to its Friday (including Thursday previews) number of $39.5M, reps a 41% drop, which translates to an $80M start. While that figure is higher than Disney theatrical distribution’s estimate of ~$75M pre-weekend, it’s lower than what the industry was initially forecasting on Friday and Saturday AM, and that’s because it’s hard for many box office analysts to forecast these day-and-date titles from Disney and Warner Bros.
Throughout the weekend, box office analysts continually lowered their estimates as ticket sales plummeted. Even if we backed out those Thursday previews out of Friday, Black Widow is still down 11% on Saturday, which is still big for an MCU title.
What this drops indicates for Black Widow is that the fanboys came out in a front-loaded nature on Thursday and Friday, and the regular moviegoers, who are typically part of the walk-up crowd on Saturday night, opted to stay home. Mulan, when theaters were closed, sans any domestic theatrical component, pulled in 1.12M US terrestrial Households, per SambaTV, in its first four days on Disney+ Premier (we’ll know more tomorrow). I have to imagine that Black Widow will beat that, and right there that tells you where some $30M in the opening B.O. went missing. Again, Disney keeps all that Disney+ money.
And just so you can digest how seismic the Friday to Saturday drop was on Black Widow, on recent previous MCU titles, Captain Marvel eased -14%, Ant-Man also -14%, Black Panther -13%, and Doctor Strange -3.7% –and that’s in a situation where Friday included Thursday previews. Right there that tells you the damage that Disney+ Premier did to Black Widow‘s box office. On a pure theatrical window, the Friday-to-Saturday declines for F9 and A Quiet Place Part II were, respectively, -25% and -22%; and Black Widow drops 41%?! How’s that?
Other stats on Black Widow: Like Captain Marvel, the femme-led movie drew more guys than women. Black Widow pulled in 58% males to 42% women; while Captain Marvel was 55% males to 45% females. Wonder Woman was a different scenario, and brought in female moviegoers with 55% females, 45% males. I’ve been hearing of late that the older female demo is slightly more reluctant to come back to movie theaters with Covid-19 lingering. With kids not largely vaccinated yet, that could be the factor in keeping Moms at home with Black Widow, as there was a low family turnout here with parents at 10% and kids at 13%, to the general audience’s dominant 77%. The lack of a female turnout here on Black Widow isn’t because Disney didn’t market toward them: They ran ads on female-centric TV programming: The Bachelorette, Keeping Up With the Kardashians and The Grey’s Anatomy finale. The under-25 set turned out at 47% for the Shortland-directed MCU title.
Imax screens in U.S. and Canada made $7.2M, repping 9% of the opening weekend, from 380 screens. The domestic Imax screen average is over $19K. As we previously mentioned, this is the first weekend at the domestic box office since Presidents Day weekend 2020 that has grossed over $100M; Black Widow leading all movies to an estimated $117M.
Now, here’s the thing that Disney might be giddy about. Let’s says Black Widow did debut to $100M this weekend at the box office without the Disney+ Premier factor. The studio would be taking home roughly $60M (I hear that smaller exhibitors are forking over a theatrical rental of 60% to the Mouse House, plus a three-week hold). In this world with Disney+ stateside, the studio is earning a $48M theatrical rental, plus let’s assume at least another $30M from Disney+ Premier (again, the draw for Black Widow has to be higher than Mulan). Disney walks home with a first domestic theatrical rental and Disney+ Premier weekend of $78M in revenue.
In all the power and the glory and trumpets over Black Widow‘s box office and Disney+ Premier weekend, here’s what CEO Bob Chapek needs to realize: Disney is shrinking the pie. The Disney+ factor will likely hurt the tail of Black Widow‘s box office legs and long-term ancillaries. Hollywood has built a fantastic business model in getting audiences to buy the same piece of IP twice. Now with Black Widow‘s availability on Disney+, you’ve just killed a window, or at least shortened the life of that window’s revenues. Captain Marvel, off its $153.4M start, had an amazing 2.78 domestic lifetime multiple to $426.8M; I don’t think we’ll see that here on Black Widow.
Marvel movies make $1 billion at the global box office: Are those days gone in favor of shrinking the pie? What about the optics of the Black Widow IP? If Disney announces a Black Widow sequel, and pulls the same day-and-date distribution strategy, who’s to say that the box office won’t be significantly less the second time around? Can we expect Disney to report Disney+ Premier revenue every time they have a film? Will we ever know the final Disney+ Premier global number on Black Widow?
Content creators, SAG, WGA, and DGA would sure love to know. Also, there’s really no third party like Comscore to verify those PVOD figures (though being a public company, Disney can’t lie about what they exclaim). For the record, since Disney announced the theatrical-day-and-date-Disney+ Premier release of Black Widow on March 23, their stock is down 6% as of Friday’s closing to $177.04.
As of this minute, Disney is expected to pull a theatrical-day-and-date Disney+ Premier release with one more title: The Dwayne Johnson-Emily Blunt title, Jungle Cruise. Their next MCU title over Labor Day weekend, Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings, and 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy, are expected to be pure theatrical releases. Who is to say more theatrical/Disney+ Premier releases aren’t in the works?
Now, Mr. Chapek, don’t go killing golden gooses. It’s premium cinema IP that makes us want to watch it in the home. As you said, back on Disney Investor Day in December, when it came to the grease that runs the Disney+ conveyor belt, “We had a $13 billion box office [in 2019], and that’s not something to sneeze at. We built those franchises through the theatrical window.”
Here’s what happened to the top 10:
- Black Widow (Dis) 4,160 theaters/Fri $39.5M/Sat $23.3M/Sun $17.2M/3-day $80M/Wk 1
- F9 (Uni) 3,649 theaters (-554), Fri $3.46M (-58% from prev Friday)/Sat $4.24M/Sun $3.18M/3-day $10.88M (-53%)/Total: $141.3M/ Wk 3
- Boss Baby: Family Business (Uni) 3,688 theaters (+44), Fri $2.88M (-63%)/Sat $3.23M/Sun $2.59M/3-day $8.7M (-47%)/total $34.7M/Wk 2
- Forever Purge (Uni) 3,058 theaters (+7), Fri $2.32M (-60%)/Sat $2.5M/Sun $1.88M/3-day $6.7M (-47%)/total $27.4M/Wk 1
- A Quiet Place Part II (Par) 2,359 (-467) Fri $975K/Sat $1.18M/Sun $840K/3-day: $3M (-27%)/Total: $150.7M/Wk 7
- Cruella (Dis) 1,875 (-505) theaters, Fri $775K/Sat $900K/Sun $525K/3-day: $2.2M (-29%)/Total: $80.7M/Wk 7
- Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (LG) 1,904 (-678) theaters Fri $469K/Sat $650K/Sun $486K/3-day $1.6M (-59%)/Total: $35M/Wk 4
- Peter Rabbit 2 (Sony) 1,958 (-996) theaters Fri $442K/Sat $473K/Sun $335K/3-day $1.25M (-56%)/Total: $37.7M/Wk 5
- In the Heights (WB) 788 (-617) theaters Fri $185K/Sat $235K/Sun $210K/3-day: $630K (-47%)/Total $28.3M/Wk 5
- Zola (A24) 1,401 theaters, Fri $210K/Sat $235K/Sun $175K/3-day: $620K (-48%) /Total $3.5M/Wk 2