Black Widow’s box office tumble sparks the ire of U.S. cinema operators


The receipts in the room of the last Marvel fell by 68%, a week after its release: in question, according to the operators, the VOD distribution of the Disney film.

From week to week, the tone has changed dramatically. Last week, Disney was celebrating the US box office success of Black widow and shouted it from the rooftops. The first Marvel movie to quench the thirst of Avengers fans since the onset of the coronavirus epidemic, this portrayal of mysterious contract killer Natasha Romanoff (still played by Scarlett Johansson) raked in $ 80 million in ticket sales . A record since American cinemas reopened.

In a desire for unprecedented transparency, Disney even announced figures concerning its online exploitation of Cate Shortland’s film: $ 60 million. In the United States, unlike France, Black widow released in theaters and on Disney + for a premium subscription.

From 60 million receipts to 25 in a week

Seven days later, it’s a cold shower. For his second weekend, Black widow is in free fall. Only $ 25.6 million in revenue. That is a decrease of 68%. It is normal for a feature film to drop between the first and the second week of broadcasting. Rarely in these proportions though. Additional indignity, Natasha Romanoff gave way to the very kitsch animated film Space Jam: a new era in which basketball player LeBron James makes an alliance with Bugs Bunny. Moreover, Disney did not see fit to reveal new Disney + figures.

This tumble provoked the ire of cinema owners. For their association, this is a sign that this hybrid exit strategy is a failure. “Despite claims that this pandemic-born exit strategy works, this setback demonstrates that an exclusive theatrical release results in more revenue for all stakeholders in each cycle of the film’s life.”, underlines the corporation.

General tumble

Upload Black widow on Disney + reaches an audience that does not necessarily have confidence in health protocols at the time of the rebound of the delta variant. But it also facilitates piracy, believes the association. “How many Disney + subscribers share their password with their loved ones? Hacking undoubtedly weighed on the performance of Black widow in the United States and will affect its future performance in international markets where it has not yet been released ”, the statement continued. “Digital copies became available within minutes of going live on Disney +. Black Widow was the most downloaded torrent movie the week it was released ”.

Also adopted by Warner via its HBO Max platform, this hybrid release model, which is also that of Space Jam: a new era, puts operators upwind and also poses serious concerns for talent in front of and behind the camera. Part of the remuneration that a well-known blockbuster actor can claim comes from ticket sales. Since the film is released the same day online, how do you claim its due? Especially since the studios are very secretive on the number of views garnered by their platform. To calm things down, Warner had signed a big check to Gal Gadot during the release of Wonder Woman 1984.

The fact remains that, as the Hollywood specialist press reminds us, the American box office still has a lot to do to regain its pre-Covid splendor. Even the ninth installment of the saga Fast & Furious capped at $ 154 million in revenue for one month of operation. Its cars have not escaped a drop of 67% of its revenues between its first two weekends. And this while Universal still practices a room exclusivity, even if the studio has reduced this window. The return to normality, assuming it is possible, promises to be delicate.

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