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Exhibitors slam Disney as Black Widow box office plummets

Although Disney was celebrating an apparent success with streaming and theatrical release of Black Widow pulling in close to $220 million combined across its opening weekend, the Marvel Studios release suffered a hefty drop at the box office in its second weekend, leading the National Association of Theatre Owners to slam Disney over its hybrid release model.

Black Widow dropped 67% at the North American box office in its second weekend (the steepest drop for any Disney-distributed MCU movie), grossing $26.25 million as it lost top spot to the newly-released Space Jam: A New Legacy ($31.65 million opening).

The Scarlett Johansson-led superhero adventure. has now taken its worldwide box office haul to $264 million (Disney hasn’t offered any further updates beyond the initial $60 million in Disney+ Premier Access streaming receipts), and NATO believes that the day-and-date release – and subsequent piracy – has severely impacted the film’s potential earnings.

SEE ALSO: SPOILERS: Black Widow’s Taskmaster actor discusses super secret villain role


“[The release] ignores that Premiere Access revenue is not new-found money, but was pulled forward from a more traditional PVOD window, which is no longer an option,” reads a statement from NATO (via Deadline). “Despite assertions that this pandemic-era improvised release strategy was a success for Disney and the simultaneous release model, it demonstrates that an exclusive theatrical release means more revenue for all stakeholders in every cycle of the movie’s life.”

“Based on preview revenue, compared to the same titles, Black Widow could have opened to anywhere from $97M to $130M,” the statement continues. The average number of people per household in the U.S. is 2.37. One can assume the family-oriented Disney+ household is larger. How much? How much password sharing is there among Disney+ subscribers? Combined with the lost theatrical revenue and forgone traditional PVOD revenue, the answer to these questions will show that simultaneous release costs Disney money in revenue per viewer over the life of the film. Piracy no doubt further affected Black Widow’s performance, and will affect its future performance in international markets where it has yet to open.”

“This was also the case for all simultaneous releases (Wonder Woman 1984, Godzilla vs Kong, Cruella, Mortal Kombat)”, the statement concludes. “This did not happen for F9 or A Quiet Place Part II. How much money did everyone lose to simultaneous release piracy? The many questions raised by Disney’s limited release of streaming data opening weekend are being rapidly answered by Black Widow’s disappointing and anomalous performance. The most important answer is that simultaneous release is a pandemic-era artifact that should be left to history with the pandemic itself.”

In Marvel Studios’ action-packed spy thriller “Black Widow,” Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.

Black Widow is directed by Cate Shortland (Lore) and sees Scarlett Johansson reprising her role as Natasha Romanoff alongside William Hurt as Thaddeus Ross, Florence Pugh (Fighting With My Family) as Yelena Belova, O-T Fagbenle (The Handmaid’s Tale) as Mason, David Harbour (Stranger Things) as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian, Rachel Weisz (The Favourite) as Melina Vostokoff and Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast) as Dreykov.



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