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'Black Widow is out in theaters, but it may have had better returns on Disney Plus. See if Premiere Access is the way of the future for movies.

‘Black Widow’: Is Disney Plus Premier Access taking over Hollywood?

For many Marvel stans, the wait is finally over. Eleven years after she first appeared on the silver screen, Black Widow arrived in theaters. After enduring multiple delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the movie lit up the box office, grossing over $158 million worldwide.

Disney announced that around $60 million of the film’s $80 million opening came from streaming. Black Widow is available for $30 on Disney Plus Premier Access. While that may have harmed Black Widow’s box office returns, the movie still had the highest-grossing opening weekend since 2019.

An impressive opening?

If Disney chose to release the Premier Access figures, then it could be an admission that the theatrical returns were lower than expected. While $80 million domestically is an extremely impressive opening, some believed Black Widow would clear $90 million.

Black Widow got off to an incredible start, hitting $13.2 million on Thursday. The movie seemed to lose steam, as it failed to hit $90 million by the weekend’s end. 

Only Aquaman and Solo: A Star Wars Story started with $12 million and similarly fell short. However, the numbers from Disney Plus Premiere have us wondering if old box office returns are a thing of the past. Black Widow can still be seen as a massive success in the post-pandemic box office.

Impact on other Disney releases

We don’t know if Disney will continue to release their digital earnings. Raya and the Last Dragon hit theaters earlier this year, and the animated adventure film opened to a strong box office. However, Disney never revealed how much the film made through Disney Plus Premier Access.

Disney’s next big release, Jungle Cruise, will open later this month. The family adventure film will open in theaters and on Disney Plus Premier Access, and families may be less likely to bring unvaccinated children to movie theaters. As such, Jungle Cruise is likely to perform much better on Disney Plus than at the cinema.

President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige has previously said the studio’s features would continue with theatrical presentations. The strategy includes using Disney Plus to premiere series like WandaVision & Loki to appeal to Marvel fans looking for more. Marvel’s next release Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings will be available only in theaters

This may signal that Disney is interested in ending the day-and-date release practice for some releases. The mainline Marvel Cinematic Universe movies will likely be released solely in theaters. More niche releases may continue to receive these blended digital & physical releases.

The competition

This summer has seen a rising tide of box office grosses. A Quiet Place Part II brought in $47.5 million, but the horror sequel was only released in theaters. A month later, the latest installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise F9: The Fast Saga opened. Similarly, F9 was also only released theatrically, and it netted $70 million in the United States and Canada.

It appears unlikely that many other studios would opt into the Disney model. Warner Brothers entered into an agreement to drop new films on HBO Max. However, they plan on returning to a theatrical release model in 2022. Many studios are shortening their exclusivity window with theaters, meaning that new releases may be available to stream much sooner than before.

Space Jam: A New Legacy is set to be released this upcoming Friday. The family sports movie will also be released on HBO Max. Subscribers can watch it for free, so it is unlikely to challenge Black Widow at the box office. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, a sequel to the frankly underrated 2019 film Escape Room, is set to be in theaters only this week.

The next super-powered release this summer is DC’s The Suicide Squad. The James Gunn directed sequel will also be released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. DC Films is already producing a spinoff series centered around John Cena’s character Peacemaker.

What do you think of Black Widow’s opening weekend? Do you think another summer blockbuster will topple the queen of the box office? Let us know in the comments below!

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