By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — For all the critical slings and arrows aimed its way, “Black Widow” has accomplished exactly what the folks at Disney hoped it would. It’s not only been a big hit on its Disney + streaming service, but it’s helped the entire cinematic box office market tremendously. The film earned  $80 million in its first weekend, crushing the benchmark for the biggest box office debut since the pandemic.

It stars Scarlett Johansson and is the first from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to open simultaneously in movie theaters and on Disney Plus. Subscribers there can rent “Black Widow” for an extra $30. Disney reported “Black Widow” generated more than $60 million “in Disney Plus Premier Access consumer spend globally,” marking the rare occasion in which a studio disclosed the profits made from streaming.

“Black Widow” is directed by Cate Shortland. The production also collected an additional $78 million from 46 international territories, boosting its global box office haul to an impressive $158 million. Combined with Disney Plus numbers, the final weekend figure sits at $215 million. 

“Black Widow” was originally slated to premiere in 2020, but was delayed several times due to the pandemic. “There’s no question it’s been worth the wait,” Disney Studios Content chairman Alan Bergman told the Hollywood Reporter. “Cate Shortland, Scarlett Johansson, and the Marvel Studios team have delivered an exceptional film that continues a legacy of creative excellence as the Marvel Cinematic Universe expands and enters a new era.”

Disney’s media and entertainment distribution chairman Kareem Daniel last Sunday touted the success of the hybrid rollout for “Black Widow,” the first Marvel movie to be released in two years.“‘Black Widow’s’ strong performance this weekend affirms our flexible distribution strategy of making franchise films available in theaters for a true cinematic experience and, as COVID concerns continue globally, providing choice to consumers who prefer to watch at home on Disney Plus.”