With the coronavirus wreaking havoc around the film industry, one of the biggest lingering questions is what happens to the film release calendar this year. (Again, acknowledging that this is not the most important part of this global story, just the part most relevant to what we cover on this site.) Since No Time to Die shifted to a November release date, everyone is wondering if more big blockbusters will follow suit. I tend to think no, because the cost of moving release dates so late in the game is staggering (No Time to Die is going to lose tens of millions of dollars). A trendsetter in the field is certainly Disney—if they start moving things around, expect everyone to follow suit. But so far, it doesn’t look like Disney is flinching in the face of an epidemic. Mulan is running its press schedule as normal, and Black Widow is still on track for its May 1 release date. To that end, we have the final Black Widow trailer.
I like this trailer the best, because it is action-heavy and that interaction with Natasha’s murder family at the end is pretty great. Florence Pugh is bringing some real Amy March energy to Yelena Belova, and I am here for it. The way she says, “I didn’t say anything!” is PURE baby sister energy. I am still deeply suspicious of how Natasha’s murder family could wreck her one great moment in Avengers: Endgame, but I do like the vibe of the murder family. I’m still not into that obvious third-act action piece with all the falling debris, but I really dig everything we’re seeing from that apartment complex confrontation, and this time we see Taskmaster pull out a T’Challa move, so someone has been doing their homework. Also, we get a little glimpse of Yelena in action, and I REALLY like what we see. Natasha has always been about the flourishes in a fight, with all the fancy spinny judo throws and whatnot, but Yelena gets right to the point, no f-cking around. That should provide some nice contrast between her and Natasha in this movie, but also open up some interesting choreography for the second-gen Black Widow going forward. Something to look forward to, then.
I’ve always been a bit dubious of the appeal of this movie, given that Natasha’s storyline has ended and it’s something of a dead-end street for storytelling. That makes me question the audience urgency to see Black Widow in theaters. Certainly, Marvel always puts butts in seats—there is a lot of built up audience trust there. But I have always maintained I will not be surprised if Black Widow is not a billion-dollar earner. With theaters shutting down around the world, including in China, the second biggest film market in the world, and “self-quarantining” becoming the hip new excuse for cancelling plans, now more than ever I wonder about the box office for this thing. The industry hasn’t faced anything like this in recent memory, and no one really knows how it will play out. Black Widow is going to be a great test for the other studios to observe, because normally it’s a no-brainer and everyone goes to see the new Marvel movie on opening weekend. But if it takes an appreciable hit, if attendance is noticeably dampened, then expect some last minute calendar shuffling and a free-for-all release schedule for the rest of the year.