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Disney’s ‘Black Widow’ Strategy May Have Backfired

Are audiences still too afraid to return to theaters, or did something else cause ‘Black Widow’ to stumble horribly in week two of its theatrical run?

Black Widow Movie Poster Released July 9, 2021

I’m one of those people who likes to read movie industry data; specifically box office figures from around the globe because I enjoy looking for emerging trends in cinema. Box Office Mojo is one of my favorite websites and I’ve been reading it on a weekly basis for over a decade for its comprehensive data in regard to every film that has been released for the past few decades. I rather enjoyed Disney’s Black Widow; the first chapter in the next wave of Marvel MCU films post-Endgame, but the box office numbers should be setting off alarm bells at Disney.

When you push past the impressive opening weekend numbers with the film earning more than $200+ million worldwide including Disney+ viewings (almost $60 million), you realize that the film may not have a long life in theaters.

In all fairness to Disney and Marvel, Black Widow was pushed off multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it would have earned a lot had there not been a global shutdown. But movie theaters have been open for awhile across the United States (Ontario just reopened last weekend after 16 months) and the first Marvel MCU film in years should have delivered more than an $80 million opening weekend with so much interest.

Disney+ gained 100 million subscribers during the pandemic and all 3 of its new Marvel MCU original series including WandaVision have been huge hits.

With so many people engaged by the new Disney/Marvel content on Disney+, Black Widow‘s second week numbers are a genuine cause for concern.

Disney’s Black Widow suffered a dramatic decline at the box office this weekend, falling 67 percent compared to its opening weekend and crushing hopes at the studio for a monster July hit in the post-pandemic movie market. Getting rolled by the Space Jam sequel was not a good look for Disney this past weekend.

Another issue for Disney is that the poor box office numbers can’t be blamed solely on the decision to make the movie available simultaneously for $30 on Disney+; a decision that still has movie theater chains furious with the studio.

The National Association of Theatre Owners responded angrily to the disappointing results, claiming that the decision to release the film on Disney+ and in the theaters simultaneously had severely undermined a “well-made, well-received, highly anticipated movie” with its rollout.

AMC and Regal have a legitimate reason to be angry with Disney having begged and borrowed during the pandemic to stay afloat.

Black Widow has made $232 million globally after 11 days which is a huge disappointment for both Marvel and Disney. With more than 20 new Marvel MCU projects in the works for television and movie theaters, Disney better hope that the audience is simply not ready to return to the theaters right now as opposed to some form of long-term MCU fatigue.

Phase 4 of the MCU doesn’t seem as compelling without the Avengers, Thanos, Black Panther, and Tony Stark — although we’ll take a few more Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy movies as long as the stories are creative.

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One thing is certain — the rest of the Hollywood studios are watching this development with both great interest and fear.

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