Black Widow: Movie theater owners blame Disney Plus launch for the box office failure of Marvel’s film

NATO asks how a well-reviewed, well-received, highly anticipated Marvel title can underperform

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The National Association of Theatre Owners have finally spoken out about the financial risk that Disney’s ambitious day-and-date theatrical release of Black Widow on Disney+ poses.

NATO asks how a well-reviewed, well-received, highly anticipated Marvel title can underperform, leading to a first weekend Friday-to-Saturday collapse of -41 percent and a -67 percent drop in weekend 2 in a press release released this afternoon following our analysis of what went wrong with the Marvel Cinematic Universe title.

NATO reaches the conclusions that when Black Widow’s legs were amputated: piracy and Disney+ at-home cannibalization, which affects not just the box office, but also the film’s subsequent home window.

The Disney theatrical day-and-date Disney+ model “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” reports NATO.

“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,” emphasizes the NATO news drop.

“Based on preview revenue, compared to the same titles, Black Widow could have opened to anywhere from $97M to $130M,” adds the release.

NATO further specify: “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,” says the NATO release, with pristine copies “also available on myriad illegal streaming sites all over the internet.”

Concludes NATO: “This was also the case for all simultaneous releases (Wonder Woman 1984, Godzilla vs Kong, Cruella, Mortal Kombat). 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.”


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