The National Association of Theatre Owners says the decision is responsible for the superhero pic’s “stunning collapse in its second weekend” at the box office.
Theater owners on Sunday blasted The Walt Disney Co. for making Marvel’s Black Widow available simultaneously in the home and on the big screen, saying the decision has undercut the tentpole’s box office potential and promoted piracy.
A press release from the National Association of Theater Owners didn’t mince words, saying that Black Widow suffered a “stunning collapse in its second weekend in theatrical revenues,” in addition to dropping an unprecedented 41 percent from Friday to Saturday during its opening over the July 9-11 frame.
“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,” NATO said.
Marvel and Disney’s Black Widow fell to No. 2 in its second outing with $26.3 million for the July 16-18 weekend. The superhero pic suffered a steep 67 percent decline, one of the biggest drops ever for a Marvel title, and the worst among the Marvel Cinematic Universe films released by Disney. (Most event films during the pandemic era have likewise suffered huge drop-offs.)
When announcing opening weekend box office results for July 9-11, Disney made pandemic-era history when taking the unusual step of adding Disney+ Premier Access revenue to Black Widow‘s total number. That pushed the film’s total global opening past the $218 million mark thanks to $60 million generated from households choosing to watch the superhero pic — starring Scarlett Johansson — at home for $30.
Behind closed doors, the decision to tack on the $60 million infuriated cinema owners, who have otherwise been willing to abide by day-and-date theatrical/streaming releases because of the COVID-19 crisis and the slow nature of the box office recovery.
This weekend, Disney declined to release updated Premier Access numbers, further muddling the issue for exhibitors.