The Avengers: Endgame was the last movie I saw in a theater. That seems like a lifetime ago at this point. While I’ve seen every Marvel release opening weekend on the big screen (except for Ant-Man because, well, Ant-Man), the Disney+ Black Widow Premier Access brought the movie theater to my couch.
Same-day digital streaming is not new. HBO MAX streams every Warner release for 30-days. Using the service, I watched several films I otherwise would have skipped. Mortal Kombat? Tom & Jerry? WW84? There’s no way I’d pay money in a theater for these movies, but I watched them all on the opening weekend, thanks to HBO MAX.
My wife and I debated seeing In The Heights in a theater, but the HBO MAX release made it so much easier to enjoy from home. Plus, it was already included in our monthly fee. How can you compete with that?
Slightly different from the Warner strategy, Disney releases some movies say-day (Luca, Onward, and Soul) while others require a $29.99 Premier Access rental. Mulan, the first Premier Access film, was tempting. Ultimately, my wife and I decided to wait until it was regularly part of Disney+ Curella didn’t even hit our radar. Everything changed when Black Widow launched on Disney+ Premier Access.
While a $29.99 Premier Access rental gave me pause for Mulan, there was no question for Black Widow. Scarlett Johansson’s final appearance (probably) as the Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? A movie delayed for more than a year due to the pandemic? The first MCU film in nearly two years? I hit “purchase” the day the film was released.
It turns out I wasn’t alone. Black Widow set pandemic records with an $80 million box office and $60 million Premier Access opening weekend. Those numbers are huge and prove people like me are willing to pay extra for big movies from home. And I can see the appeal. Premier Access is a treat, rendering most movie theaters obsolete.
Rarely have I gone to the movies for a major release and had a smooth, pleasant experience. The projector broke in the middle of Black Panther, and the theater shrugged and said, “I guess you can all come back another time.” No matter how big the recliner chairs are, I somehow always end up sharing an armrest with a stranger. Yes, the screen is huge, and the sound is wonderful, but seeing a movie in the theaters is always an uncomfortable hassle.
Black Widow Premier Access let my wife and I enjoy the movie in the comfort of our home. We had our snacks, food, and didn’t have to share an armrest with anyone. The $29.99 seems like a lot, but it’s about what we’d end up spending at one of the theaters near our house. Plus, I can now watch Black Widow as many times as I’d like. I can’t do that with regular movie tickets.
I can’t say for certain that I’ll never see a movie in the theaters again. There’s something about a major experiencing a shared moment for a massive release like Star Wars or another Avengers team-up. But for most movies I’m interested in, Premiere Access is the way to go.