Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weiss) and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Natasha’s Russian spy mother and sister respectively, are equally formidable characters. Not only do the women engage in battle without the need for male back up, but Natasha and Yelena even perform a dramatic rescue of their family father figure, Alexei Alanovich Shostakov, AKA the Red Guardian (the Russian equivalent to Captain America), played by David Harbour. Even the almost impossible-to-defeat villain, Taskmaster, turns out to be a woman (you were warned about spoilers!).
The film had an impressive opening weekend. The Walt Disney Company announced that the film debuted to an estimated total of more than $215 million globally its first weekend, including $80 million in domestic box office, $78 million in international box office and over $60 million in Disney+ Premier Access consumer spend globally. The film garnered several notable achievements in its opening weekend, including being the largest domestic box office opening since the COVID-19 pandemic began and the largest domestic opening weekend since “Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker” in December 2019. The combined theatrical and Disney+ Premier Access opening makes “Black Widow” the only film to surpass $100 million in domestic consumer spend on opening weekend since the start of the pandemic. It is the highest domestic opening weekend for a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) origin story after Black Panther and Captain Marvel. That’s all pretty impressive for a character who is already dead in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Natasha sacrificed herself to save the world in “Avengers: Endgame.”) This works because the film, which is in many ways Natasha’s origin story, takes place just after “Captain America: Civil War” and before “Avengers: Infinity War,” when Natasha is still very much alive.
While those box office numbers were amazing, those initial numbers didn’t hold, showing that this Universe has its limits. The film fell hard with the largest second-week drop in box-office sales of any MCU movie (Source: Screenrant). Theories abound that this could be the death knell for MCU or that Disney is taking a dive, but the truth is probably much simpler. “Black Widow” was originally scheduled to be released in May 2020 but was delayed more than once due to COVID-19. Those types of delays can certainly affect a movie’s momentum. And although movie theaters are opening back up and fans seem excited to return to more normal activities, the pandemic is still a concern for many people. And – because not everyone feels safe going back to the theater – comparing box office numbers, streaming numbers and combinations thereof can create a confusing mix of stats. This becomes more complicated now that Disney has announced an accelerated release of the film to DVD, Blue-Ray and digital, with downloads available in August and physical copies arriving in September (Source: Gizmodo). In terms of Marvel films, which most fans like to watch numerous times, the numbers for “Black Widow” are far from in and will most likely continue to add up. Merchandise options will continue to grow as well. School is just about to start and the next big season in retail is Halloween. Red Guardian, Taskmaster, Yelena and of course, Black Widow costumes are already on sale at some retailers. Expect to see Natasha and her MCU cohorts at your door come Halloween.
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