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(Photo by © Marvel Studios)
People had waited long enough: Three new release dates due to the pandemic; 14 months since its original release date; 11 years since the character appeared on film to finally get her shot to headline a movie herself. Black Widow is finally here and on Thursday night it had a better preview night than Deadpool, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Guardians of the Galaxy – not to mention Justice League, Man of Steel and Wonder Woman. They could not wait any longer. Not even a few more hours until it dropped on Disney+ for a $30 premium fee. Did that shutter its theatrical numbers over the weekend? Maybe, but with $80 million for the weekend it is still the best start of any film since 2019.
When F9 began with $7.1 million in Thursday previews, theaters were back! So we were told. Its weekend number, though, while still a pandemic high was also on the low-end of comparable films to that preview tally. Black Widow just cracked the Top 40 all-time in day-before previews with a $13.2 million start on Thursday. Only two films had ever started with $12 million and failed to hit $90 million by the end of the weekend: Aquaman and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Solo was then joined by Man of Steel and Justice League as the only films on that list not to reach $300 million by the end of their run. Neither of those DC films had pandemic asterisks to impede their progress (only Tomatometer scores of 56% and 40%, respectively). Black Widow, Certified Fresh at 80%, is now the third film on that list not to hit $90 million on its opening weekend and will most likely also join the non-$300 million company as well. But, on the plus side, the movie has made over $215 million worldwide and, reportedly, an additional $60 million in Disney+ Premier Access rentals. At least we have a new threshold now that the studio feels comfortable giving out numbers for their ongoing experiment.
So, $200 million is the new $300 million and, as Black Widow is set to reach its first $100 million later this week, that milestone is looking possible. Traditionally, movies opening with $80 million or more sail past $200 million totals; this is your regular reminder that only X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Fifty Shades of Grey started with $80-plus million and failed to reach $200 million. Still, one cannot help but feel as if the standards by which box office has been measured in the past are gone permanently. Releases like Black Widow allow theaters to breathe a sigh of relief with enough patrons coming to get some popcorn, but the streaming and premium access factors may be making these films more frontloaded than ever before. Prior to this weekend, the top five opening weekends of the year fell an average of 62.7% in their second weekends. (Three of those films were HBO Max/Warner Brothers titles.) In 2019, the top 10 films averaged a 52% drop and those openings were $90 million or higher (or, higher than any film since – including Black Widow). Marvel’s film is going to have a shot to overtake both A Quiet Place Part II and F9 by next weekend and both of them have been exclusive to theaters. (The Quiet Place sequel will be available for purchase online starting Monday.) Of the 23 films that have ever opened between $75 million and $86 million, 13 of them did not have $150 million by day 10.
(Photo by Giles Keyte/©Universal Pictures)
F9‘s drop of 53% from last week to $10.9 million marks the second-biggest third-weekend drop of any film still in 2,000 theaters this year. (Mortal Kombat fell 61.4%.) This puts F9 in close proximity to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (another franchise that was in decline), which grossed $10.7 million in its third weekend, had $135.8 million after 17 days, and ultimately grossed $172.5 million. Unless F9 pulls off the mere 16.3% drop that Tell No Tales did in weekend four, it will probably be right in line with the $150 million that film had on day 24. That is where A Quiet Place Part II stands as of this weekend on day 45 of its release. (F9 stands at $141 million.) Even with F9 beginning to creep up behind it, Krasinski’s film actually had a better third weekend ($12 million) – but at this pace Black Widow is going to surpass it before F9 does. The ninth entry in The Fast Saga can at least boast this week that it became first film during the pandemic to surpass $500 million at the international box office. A Quiet Place Part II currently stands at $275 million; the first film grossed $350 million worldwide.
The newbies last week were knocked back a little. The Boss Baby: Family Business – still available to stream on Peacock as well as watch in theaters – fell 46% to $8.7 million for a total of $34.7 million to date. That’s right on par with what Stuart Little 2 had back in 2002, though it grossed $10.6 million in its second weekend. The CGI mouse film started to fall back further in subsequent weeks, which may give Boss Baby 2 a chance to align itself and make it up to around the $64.95 million that the Stuart Little movie grossed – far less than the original Boss Baby‘s $175 million. The Forever Purge similarly fell 46% down to $6.8 million for a total of $27.5 million. That is pretty close to the pace of 2009 horror movie Orphan, which had $7.5 million in weekend two and a tally of $27 million. Orphan finished with $41.5 million.
It was supposed to be Indiana Jones weekend, but the filming of the fifth film was put on hold until after the pandemic. James Mangold’s entry with Harrison Ford will now debut July 29, 2022.
The next film to test the hybrid model of same-day theatrical/streaming release will be Warner Brothers’ Space Jam: A New Legacy, as LeBron James tries to outdo what Michael Jordan did 25 years ago. That would be just over $90 million at the box office with Bugs Bunny as his above-the-title co-star. The film will be in theaters as well as available to stream on HBO Max. Also debuting in theaters is Focus Features’ Roadrunner, a documentary about the late celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain.
79% Black Widow (2021)
59% F9 The Fast Saga (2021)
46% The Boss Baby: Family Business (2021)
49% The Forever Purge (2021)
91% A Quiet Place Part II (2021)
75% Cruella (2021)
26% The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard (2021)
67% Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (2021)
94% In the Heights (2021)
88% Zola (2020)
Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]