Black Widow is out and Scarlett Johansson’s big Marvel Studios spin-off is available for all to see. The problem for theater owners is that many fans have elected not to watch the movie on the silver screen.
Johansson has made it clear that she has no plans to reprise her Black Widow role. This film could serve as the character’s swansong as played by Johansson. Fans flocked to the theater, at first, but then they decided to simply boot up the Disney+ app instead.
National Association of Theater Owners, or NATO, released a public statement about this situation. They blamed Disney for Black Widow’s box office slump, because the company is offering the film to stream on their Disney+ platform upon its theatrical release.
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. 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. 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. Pristine digital copies became available within minutes of release on Disney+. Black Widow was the most torrented movie for the week ending July 12.
Making major films available on their release day for streaming was a solution during the pandemic. It kept people at home where they needed to be. Now it seems that system is not working for NATO as they have seen the effects that a film’s easy accessibility on a streaming service has on their business.
Space Jam 2: A New Legacy topped Back Widow this weekend with $32 million, but that film is also available on HBO Max. NATO could pen another upset statement aimed at HBO Max to blame them for next week’s likely lower numbers for Space Jam 2.
What’s your take on this story? Would you rather stream at home or go to a movie theater? Sound off in the comments!