“Black Widow” sold $13.2 million in preview tickets Thursday, putting it on track to raise the bar for box office in the pandemic era.
The Marvel movie is expected to gross between $80 million and $110 million in box office receipts this weekend.
Universal’s “F9” made $7.1 million last month during its Thursday previews and $70 million for its debut weekend. Both were records for a movie released in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Thursday’s receipts for “Black Widow” are on par with the $15.4 million collected by “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and the $14.5 million collected by “Thor: Ragnarok.” Both films were released in 2017. “Spider-Man” scored $117 million during its three-day opening weekend and “Thor: Ragnarok” made $123 million, according to Comscore data.
The strong preview numbers — coupled with presales that are in line with several Marvel movies released before the pandemic — suggest fans will be heading out to see this feature on the big screen, even though it’s available on Disney+ for $30.
“This is the weekend Marvel fans have been waiting for, and their enthusiasm is reflected in Thursday’s preview numbers predicting a potentially pandemic-era best opening weekend for ‘Black Widow,'” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. . “Despite its availability on Disney+, ‘Black Widow’ is undeniably a big screen event and once again proves the essential nature of the cinema experience.”
To be sure, the number of movie theaters open to the public is still below 2019 levels. For the weekend, about 81% of movie theaters sell tickets, Comscore reports.
Either way, “Black Widow” is headed for the biggest opening of the pandemic, and the industry is likely to see its highest total weekend checkout since March 2020. This will be a huge advance from the $901,000 brought in the domestic checkout. during the same weekend last year.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of Universal Studios and CNBC.