After being delivered some major blows in the last year, the normal experience of going to the movies appears to be back. As I noted in my box office column, this past weekend was the first since March 2020 that the Top 10 films in North America all made over $1 million, which is a major milestone. A big reason for the swell in ticket sales is thanks to the arrival of Justin Lin's F9 a couple weeks back, which arrived on the big screen with a bang – but while that blockbuster set records for the pandemic era, it looks like they won't be standing for very long, as Cate Shortland's Black Widow seems poised to outperform the Fast & Furious feature in its upcoming debut.
F9 made an impressive $70 million in its first three days of release domestically, which is an impressive sum in the context of everything that's happened in the past year, but it looks like excitement for the first Marvel Studios release since Jon Watts' Spider-Man: Far From Home is going to lead Black Widow to top it in the record books. According to Variety, the Scarlett Johansson-led blockbuster is estimated to make between $75-85 million from Friday to Sunday, which would make it the new mid-pandemic box office king (or queen, if you prefer).
If it does manage to put up those numbers this weekend, it would actually be really significant, as Black Widow has a certain aspect in its release that F9 doesn't: the movie is going to be playing day-and-date digitally the same day it launches into theaters. In addition to playing on the big screen nationwide, the Marvel Cinematic Universe film will also be available via Premier Access on Disney+ (which means subscribers have to pay an additional fee to watch). If Black Widow proves to be more popular than F9 at the box office, that would only represent a certain fraction of its overall success, as those numbers won't account for audiences who decide to view the blockbuster on their devices.
Not to oversell the situation, but Black Widow marks an important moment in box office history that could wind up being key in the on-going conflict between streaming and the big screen. If cinemas can sell out theaters even when people have the option to watch new releases in their living room, that's information that is going to be vital in the future of film distribution.
So I'll throw the question to you: knowing that Black Widow is going to be both in theaters and on Disney+ via Premier Access this weekend, how do you plan on watching? Are you going to go for the big screen experience, or opt for convenience? Answer our poll below, and for a full low down on everything that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has coming in the next few months/years, be sure to head over to our Upcoming Marvel Movies guide.