Disney/Marvel’s ‘Black Widow’ Moves Atop 2021 Domestic Box Office

Entering the Aug. 8 weekend, Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow moved past Universal Pictures’ F9: The Fast Saga to become the top-grossing year-to-date domestic box office release with $171.5 million. F9 had $170.5 million, according to industry figures.

The movies have grossed $348 million and $644.3 million worldwide, respectively. The former has become a legal issue for Disney.

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Despite its current No. 1 standing in the U.S., Black Widow is seen by some observers as having underperformed theatrically in the U.S. — most notably by lead star Scarlett Johansson. The actress last month filed a lawsuit against Disney alleging the studio deliberately co-released the movie on its Premier Access platform to Disney+ subscribers in an effort to reduce its compensation to her.

Disney said it generated $60 million in PVOD revenue on Widow’s opening weekend, followed by $30 million over the second weekend. It’s not known what, if any, Johansson’s contract included PVOD sales, though Disney attorney Daniel Petrocelli told Variety Aug. 6 that the studio did include the Premier Access release in Johansson’s bonus as if it were box office cash.

Exhibitor trade group National Association of Theatre Owners blasted Disney for its hybrid box office/streaming distribution strategy, arguing the move undercut the media giant’s long-term financial possibilities, including home entertainment.

Disney would argue the concurrent releases were due to the ongoing pandemic that has left theaters operating at reduced capacity, moviegoers wary of the Delta variant, the politics of vaccinations, a desire to grow Disney+ subscribers and take advantage of PVOD’s higher profit margins than theatrical.

Disney+ subs paid a $29.99 add-on for SVOD access to Black Widow. The movie is set to become available on transactional digital platforms Aug. 10 and  on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray and DVD on Sept. 14.

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