Marvel Studios' first full-length film in two years Black Widow premiered this month to much fanfare and its impressive $80 million opening week haul pretty much proved that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still a true powerhouse in the world of entertainment.
However, things quickly turned 180 in just a matter of days, and for its second-week returns, the Scarlett Johansson film only managed to earn $26 million dollars which is quite astonishing when you think about it.
The massive 67% drop in the film's box office performance is of course no laughing matter, especially for theater operators who had to deal with a tremendous loss in revenue when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Unsurprisingly, the National Association of Theater Owners isn't thrilled with the outcome and they are blaming Disney for Black Widow's disappointing theatrical performance.
NATO believes that the House of Mouse's decision to make Black Widow available on Disney+'s Premier Access gravely affected the film's chances of gaining consistent box office numbers. In an official press statement (via ComicBook), the organization said that the simultaneous release of the film in theaters and on streaming is doing the industry more harm than good.
The press release reads: "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. Based on preview revenue, compared to the same titles, Black Widow could have opened to anywhere from $97M to $130M."
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NATO raises a pretty valid argument. Had Disney decided to push back Black Widow's streaming release, its box office numbers would have totally skyrocketed. But then again, not many people are already confident to step outside and watch films inside a cinema which is understandable. But for the most part, I'd still say that the MCU film ended up being triumphant.
Black Widow is screening in cinemas and is also available for streaming on Disney+.