“Black Widow,” Marvel’s superhero film starring Scarlett Johansson, made $13.2 million from Thursday box office previews that began at 5:00 p.m. It opens on 4,100+ screens this weekend, as well as 375 Imax auditoriums, 800+ premium large format screens, 1,500 3-D locations and 275 specialty D-Box/4D/ScreenX screens.
That’s an easy record high for a preview total in the pandemic, with only “F9” coming anywhere close with $7.1 million in its Thursday start, and “A Quiet Place Part 2” making $4.8 million. “Black Widow” has also been open in 30 international markets for the last two days, and in that time, it grossed $22.4 million up through the end of Thursday.
It’s been a long wait for the start of Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with two years between Marvel films, and audiences clearly were tired of waiting. After being pushed back from a summer 2020 release, “Black Widow” on Fandango wound up the top-selling advance sale title domestically so far this year, and the film has had strong critical buzz with an 83% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.
But “Black Widow” is also opening on Disney+ through Premier Access for $30 on the same day it hits theaters, and we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. So while expectations are sky-high for Johansson’s solo effort, Disney is projecting a $75 million three-day weekend, while trackers are expecting a start in the $80 million range.
For some other MCU comparisons, Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” from November 2016 made $9.4 million in previews before opening to $85 million, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” made $15.4 million and opened to $117 million in July 2017, and “Ant-Man and the Wasp” from 2018 made $11.5 million in previews and opened to $75.8 million.
In the MCU timeline, “Black Widow” is a standalone film that jumps backwards in time to just after the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and before “Avengers: Infinity War,” when Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff is on the run and being pursued by a masked warrior known as the Taskmaster. She finds herself teaming up with her old Russian family from when she was a child on a mission in America, with a cast that includes Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz.
Cate Shortland directed “Black Widow” from a screenplay by Eric Pearson, and the film also stars O-T Fagbenle and Ray Winstone.