Marvel movie fatigue: Disney’s Black Widow suffers blow with sales falling 67% on opening weekend 

Is Marvel movie fatigue setting in? Disney’s latest offering Black Widow starring Scarlett Johansson suffers box office blow with sales falling 67% on its opening weekend

  • The film brought in just over $26M last weekend, down from $80M on opening
  • The drop is the largest ever for a Marvel film distributed by Disney
  • Filmed in 2019, the movie’s promotion and release was interrupted by Covid-19
  • Its total gross sits below 2008’s Incredible Hulk, which led to star Edward Norton being replaced by Mark Ruffalo in upcoming movies

Marvel’s Black Widow is on track to be one of the lowest-grossing Marvel movies after a second-week box office plunge of 67 percent, with some experts worried that Marvel fatigue has set in.

The Scarlett Johansson-led film made just $26.25M last weekend compared to $80.3M on the weekend beginning July 9, marking the steepest second-week drop for a Marvel film distributed by Disney.

The release of the action flick, directed by Cate Shortland and filmed in 2019, suffered from fits and starts as the promo cycle was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Scarlett Johansson-led film was shot in 2019, but its release was interrupted by Covid-19

It was finally released simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ for $30 earlier this month.

‘I assumed this would be a bigger, more consistent hit,’ Disney expert and commentator Josh Spiegel told The Washington Post

‘If Black Widow can only do what it did in its second weekend, there’s a part of me that says people may be a little tired of Marvel. That should make Disney worried.’ 

2019's Avengers: Endgame brought in the most money domestically ($858M) and globally ($2B). Above, Chris Hemsworth as Thor

2019’s Avengers: Endgame brought in the most money domestically ($858M) and globally ($2B). Above, Chris Hemsworth as Thor

Black Panther, led by the late Chadwick Boseman, grossed $700M at the US box office

Black Panther, led by the late Chadwick Boseman, grossed $700M at the US box office

Though Black Widow’s numbers may seem huge compared to most films, they pale in comparison to the hundreds of millions raked in by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The highest grossing movie in the franchise is Avengers: Endgame, which grossed $357M in its opening weekend and went on to gross $858M in the US for a worldwide gross of $2.7B. 

Highest-grossing Marvel films in the US

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a lucrative franchise for Disney, which began distributing the films in 2012 with The Avengers.

  1. Avengers: Endgame – $858M
  2. Black Panther – $700M
  3. Avengers: Infinity War – $678M
  4. The Avengers – $623M
  5. Avengers: Age of Ultron – $459M
  6. Captain Marvel – $426M
  7. Iron Man 3 – $409M
  8. Captain America: Civil War – $408M
  9. Spider-Man: Far From Home – $390M
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – $389M 

Its followed by Black Panther, which brought in a total of $700M in the US after an opening weekend of $202M, according to Box Office Mojo

The simultaneous streaming-and-theater pandemic release may have played a hand in Black Widow’s underperformance, said equity research analyst Alicia Reese. 

‘I think what this shows is that if you’re making a movie available quickly for free on streaming, people will just wait,’ said Reese, who works at investment firm Wedbush Securities.

‘If Disney goes back to the traditional model, I think people will be less patient and come back to the theater.’ 

MCU movies rake in even more at the global box office. 

Avengers: Endgame takes the top spot again, with $2.79B globally, followed by Avengers: Infinity War ($2B), The Avengers ($1.5B) and Avengers: Age of Ultron ($1.4B). 

Disney may not have time to sulk, considering ‘Phase 4’ of the MCU will span as many as 24 series and movies through 2023.

The MCU kicked off with 2008’s Iron Man starring Robert Downey, Jr.

Most Marvel film were distributed by Paramount Pictures until 2012, when Disney took over helm of the franchise with the first Avengers film.

As it stands, Black Widow sits below 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, which brought in a measly $134M in US box office sales.

The star of that film, Edward Norton, was eventually replaced with Mark Ruffalo. 


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