‘Black Widow’ sets sights on record pandemic opening as advanced ticket sales soar

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Natasha Romanoff arrives for the box office crown.

After a 14-month delay, “Black Widow” hits theaters Friday, and it’s poised to grab the highest box office of any film released during the pandemic.

As of Wednesday, the Marvel movie will surpass presales for “F9” and “A Quiet Place Part II” during the same time frame, Fandango told CNBC. It also outperforms the advanced ticket sales of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Doctor Strange,” both of which were released before the pandemic.

“Doctor Strange” collected $85 million during its 2016 opening and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” earned $117 million during its 2017 debut.

Current estimates say “Black Widow” will be worth between $80 million and $110 million in receipts this coming weekend. This would be a pandemic record, catching up with “F9,” which debuted two weeks ago with $70 million in ticket sales.

An opening in that range would also be comparable to a number of other Marvel titles, including: “Thor: The Dark World”, “Spider-Man: Far From Home”, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Iron Man.”

“We’ve seen several milestones of theatrical recovery so far, but I have no doubt the most important one so far is in sight with ‘Black Widow,'” said Shawn Robbins, principal analyst at Boxoffice.com.

“Black Widow,” which takes place between the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” will also debut on Disney+ on the same day for $30. Box office analysts aren’t sure how this simultaneous launch will will affect checkout performance, but advanced ticketing suggests that many will choose to leave their homes to see this feature on the big screen.

“‘Black Widow’s’ hybrid release throws a wrench in typical forecasting models, as a tent pole of this scale has never been released this way, but I’m pretty sure we’ll see some very special results at the box office this weekend.” talk despite the presence of a paid streaming option,” said Robbins.

After all, Marvel fans were flocking to make “Avengers: Endgame” the highest-grossing film in cinematic history. That is, until Disney re-released “Avatar” during the pandemic. Disney has released a steady stream of Marvel content on its streaming service since January, but no feature film has been connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the big screen for two years.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, suggests that some Marvel fans will choose to see “Black Widow” in theaters first and then buy the film on Disney+ to watch it again at home.

“It seems that true Marvel fans will always choose the theatrical option first, because that’s where they’ve had some of their most memorable and goosebump-inducing movie experiences,” he said. “Watching a Marvel movie on a big screen with equally enthusiastic fans in the communal setting of the cinema is a truly special event and it has been a long time coming for millions of fans around the world and so all eyes will be on ‘Black Widow’s ‘.’ debut this weekend.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal owns Fandango.

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