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Black Widow sets pandemic box office record, rakes in $60 million on Disney+

Marvel has returned to the movies — while still raking in an impressive sum on streaming

Black Widow, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to hit theaters in two years, took in $80 million at the domestic box office this weekend, the biggest domestic debut for any film since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Deadline reports. The prequel centered around Scarlett Johansson's Avengers character had been delayed multiple times due to the pandemic and was originally scheduled for May 2020. 

The $80 million domestic opening came in a bit under expectations, Deadline notes, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, some analysts thought it could approach $100 million. But experts said it was still a solid start considering not all theaters have reopened and the film was also available to stream on Disney+ for $30. 

"Certainly the figure would be higher if every theater were open, if there were zero concern with COVID, and if there weren't a streaming option," Franchise Entertainment Research's David A. Gross told Variety. "For now, those impediments make Black Widow's opening all the more impressive."

Disney also revealed that Black Widow took in over $60 million globally via its streaming release, the first time the company announced how much a Disney+ Premier Access title grossed in its opening. Disney executive Kareem Daniel said this "affirms our flexible distribution strategy" of "providing choice to consumers who prefer to watch at home on Disney+," and Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian told CNN it "shows that with the right movie you can have success on the big screen and the small." 

Looking ahead, Disney has said Marvel's next film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, will go back to being released exclusively in theaters. But Disney still isn't done adjusting its strategy because of the pandemic, as Shang-Chi will be available to watch at home 45 days after hitting theaters, down from the pre-pandemic norm of about 90 days.