It just seems to keep getting worse for Black Widow. The film that not only didn’t do that well at the theatrical box office and resulted in a lawsuit against the company by the film’s lead actress, but also didn’t do as well as the company had originally hoped on the Disney Plus Premier Access Program. But now a HUGE oversight from Disney may have cost them over half a billion in lost revenue.
The film released in late June of 2021 and received $379.6 Million at the worldwide box office. The exact same day the film was released on Disney Plus as part of the same-day-release Premier Access program for the Disney Plus streaming service. For only $30 you could rent the film. Disney said they made about $30 Million of those sales, about 1 Million buys, but those numbers are heavily debated.
Overall the film made less than expected compared to other MCU films. Even Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and The Eternals each earned over $400 Million. But something definitely impacted the film’s box office intake. Piracy.
According to Deadline, just two weeks after the film released theatrically and saw a major dip in ticket sales, there was reportedly 20 Million illegal downloads of the film online. That equates to about $600 Million in Premier Access revenue.
It seems that Disney forgot that the internet was the internet. How can this be you might ask? Well perhaps releasing a high quality version on a streaming service the same time the film was in theaters, and the internet being the internet, you are bound to have content pirated. This time internet pirates didn’t need to rely on a handheld camera recording a screen in the theater they just ripped the files from Disney Plus and uploaded it online.
Deadline also points out that this trend also affected multiple films throughout 2021. Warner Bros. made the “brilliant decision” to release every theatrical film on HBO Max for free on day one, which was not only a bad idea as they made no money, but also gave internet pirates the films practically for free. Disney Plus tried multiple Premier Access films such as the Mulan Remake and Raya and the Last Dragon, but both of those didn’t do as well either.
It seems that the same-day-release tactic for streaming services has blown up in studios’ faces as internet pirates have seemingly outsmarted mega billion dollar corporations. Hopefully the idea will fade away and we will see movies release theatrically first before streaming and BluRay/DVD. Look at Spider-Man: No Way Home. Released exclusively in theaters with no way to make a high quality pirate, and it’s already made over $1 Billion.
Sources: Deadline, ScreenRant
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