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I watched Black Widow on Disney Plus Premier Access — and didn’t miss the theater at all

Black Widow movie release date
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Disney Plus Premier Access has been a bit of a mixed bag since it launched last year for Mulan. For the most part, I’ve been pretty content to just wait three months and watch those movies when they don’t cost me $30.

The situation with the recently-released Black Widow is different. Not only is it a Marvel movie (which makes it instantly more interesting, than, say, learning about Cruella's back story), it's the first Premiere Access movie worth paying for. Plus, it arrived on Disney Plus alongside its major theatrical release.

Even though I didn’t need to (in my opinion) overpay, I’m quite glad that I made the choice to go the Premier Access route.

Disney Plus Premier Access: The right option right now

I’ve never been shy about outwardly stating how much I don’t like watching movies in a theater. Yes, you get the big screen and sound, but you also have to watch that movie on someone else’s schedule, and share that experience with other people. In a mid-pandemic society, that may not be a risk worth taking. Plus, people don’t always behave appropriately. 

I am a big Marvel fan, though, and I’m usually at one of the first screenings for the latest installment. Usually, that involves staying up for a midnight screening and suffering through the next day on only a few hours sleep. 

That wasn’t really an option with Black Widow, since getting to a theater wasn’t on the cards. I just got a dog a few weeks ago, and since he’s not quite ready to be left on his own for extended periods of time. Especially not for the three-plus hours it would take for me to go to and from the theater and see Black Widow.

The whole trip would have cost me less than $15. Plus, to sweeten the deal U.K. theaters started showing Black Widow on July 7 — two days before it arrived on Disney Plus. 

I could have found a dog sitter, though that would have cost money, or I could have gone at the weekend when my girlfriend (who doesn't care for Marvel movies) would be around to keep my pooch company.

I can imagine new parents in a similar boat. Because while it’s socially acceptable to take babies to restaurants or into stores, taking them to the theater is a sure-fire way to make everyone in there hate you. Especially if you’re watching a loud action movie like Black Widow, which would likely induce some crying.

So, for the very first time, it actually made sense for me to shell out $30 for a Premier Access movie. But to be honest, dog responsibilities or not, I’m pretty happy that I made that decision.

A blockbuster release, with all the comforts of home

Watching Black Widow in my own space, I have the recliner on my couch to make sure I’m nice and comfortable. And then there are the not-so-little things:  watching at home means I didn’t have to travel anywhere, and nobody in my house has COVID, something my theater can't promise me.

Being able to watch Black Widow on demand also gave me choices. I can include subtitles if I wanted them (and I did), I can loop back and rewatch scenes where I missed the dialogue or spotted an easter egg, or I could opt to just not wear pants if I felt like it. But, most importantly, I can pause the film, then come back to it later, for all kinds of reasons including bathroom breaks and calming my barking dog down.

The ability to pause became especially invaluable when I needed an extended break halfway through the movie. I realized I'd I lost track of time, and realized I still had to bake a birthday cake for my girlfriend. (It was carrot cake if anyone cares, because that’s her favorite, and it was absolutely delicious. I even made the frosting from scratch.)

I admit that  pausing a blockbuster movie because you forgot to bake a cake isn’t exactly a situation most people will find themselves in. But we could all have some other need to stop the reel, that would prove valuable. Obviously, when you’re in a theater you’re basically sealed off from the outside world. 

Yes, the theater reduces the potential distractions, be they from phones, the doorbell and the nearly infinite number of other things that can interrupt you when you’re trying to watch a movie. That's great, sure, but it’s been nice to have the option to view a new release at home, and one that wasn’t just an impulse watch at that. 

When will I get to do this again?

There’s been no shortage of opportunities to watch theatrical releases in the comfort of my own home this past year. The only downside was finding something I really wanted to watch. Something worth paying the equivalent of $22 for at any rate. It would have quite liked to have seen Godzilla vs Kong, but not so much that I was willing to pay £16 to rent it.

Black Widow may have been the first movie I was willing to pay so much to watch away from the theater, but it definitely isn’t the last. The Suicide Squad and Dune are on their way very soon, and the absence of HBO Max in the U.K means I have some difficult decisions to make.

I have no doubts that both movies will be available to stream on demand, the question is where they’re going to be and how much they’re going to cost me. After all the upside of Black Widow is I can watch it as many times as I like over the course of the next three months.

Something about paying £16 for a 48 hour rental stings just a bit too much, especially since my local theater sells adult tickets for a measly £5 ($7). That’s assuming HBO Max doesn’t magically launch here over the next few weeks, and it’s actually available on-demand.

So I may need to bite the bullet and organise a trip to the theater. Which is a shame, because there are still so many cakes waiting to be baked.

Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.