‘Black Widow’ Proves That Disney’s Theaters + Paid Streaming Strategy Works | Analysis

Vaccination delays and the Delta variant will likely drive a similar hybrid strategy for the rest of Marvel’s crowded release slate

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Like a half-filled glass, the box office numbers for “Black Widow” are either good or bad for theaters, depending on how you look at it. With an estimated $80 million in domestic theatrical box office, the Marvel Studios film has set a new post-pandemic high for North America and has shown that, with the right film, a large portion of the public is ready to come back to theaters.

But then there is the $78 million grossed from 48 overseas markets that are still hobbled by COVID-19, and the surprising decision by Disney to reveal the film’s revenue from its simultaneous premium paid streaming release: $60 million worldwide. Those numbers show that as the Delta variant of COVID-19 and struggles with vaccination in many key countries continue to cast uncertainty on the overseas box office, Disney will likely need the hybrid release model for the foreseeable future if its biggest tentpoles are to reach pre-pandemic levels of profitability.

And that could put a limit on how much theaters are able to profit from the six Marvel films coming in the next 12 months.

how did natasha get away at the end of black widow
Marvel Studios

Domestically, Disney did not disclose how much of “Black Widow’s” paid video on demand (PVOD) grosses came from North America, but it did provide a clue by noting that domestic consumer spend for the film exceeded $100 million, which would give the film the third-highest opening for an MCU origin story behind “Black Panther” ($202 million in 2018) and “Captain Marvel” ($153 million in 2019).

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • jeremy.fuster@thewrap.com • Twitter: @jeremyfuster