Movie Theater Owners Blame Disney+ For ‘Black Widow’ Second Week Crash


Disney parks aren’t the only Disney entertainment with ups and downs, it seems that their theatrical releases could be heading for the same drop that riders get on Splash Mountain. Now the National Association of Theatre Owners (the other NATO) aren’t happy with Disney and they are publicly speaking out.

Yesterday I reported that ‘Black Widow’ not only didn’t perform that great as a Marvel film only bringing in about $80 million domestically the first weekend, it has since plunged down into the briar patch with an over 67% drop that makes it win in one MCU category–the largest second week drop of any MCU film.

Disney was quick to spin the PR opening weekend about ‘Black Widow’ being the biggest release (during a pandemic), and I’m sure they will blame the decline on the pandemic as well. But the National Association of Theatre Owners blame Disney themselves for the box office problems. Specifically Disney’s simultaneous theatrical and Disney+ $30 Premier Access release.

It doesn’t help that ‘Black Widow’ was also the most pirated movie of the week.

NATO had this to say:

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 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.

They pointed out that shared passwords and one price model was leaving money on the table. They also mentioned that Disney going to streaming on Disney+ for a fee doesn’t mean they keep all the money. Where they split the money 50/50, or more like in Star Wars, with theaters they still have to pay platform fees to services like Apple TV or Roku to access Disney+ in the first place.  Now those fees are much smaller, only 15% or so, but that will add up quickly as well.

Still not a reason for Disney to stop doing it. 85% is still better than 50-60%.

But NATO wanted to make the point that if Disney had focused on theatrical release over Disney+ release they believe the company would have made more money and wouldn’t have the huge theatrical drop off.

And they feel that the answers to the decline of a highly anticipated movie are due to the simultaneous release and Disney’s fault.

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.

I think that the split is part of it, but in my opinion I think it also has to do with the fact that a lot of people lost interest due to the long wait. By the time the movie came out if almost felt like you had already seen it and just forgot about it.  The excitement and demand wasn’t as high as it could have been if it hadn’t been pushed back so many times. That and a lot of people said they were done after “Endgame” because they felt it wrapped up the decade+ saga.

Either way, Disney has a problem and they have ‘The Jungle Cruise’ coming later this month and it’s releasing the same way, to the same problems and delays.  It will be interesting to see how that goes. If it still does fairly well, maybe the issue is with Phase 4 MCU and the loss of most of the core characters.

What do you think? Comment and let us know!

Source: Variety

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