Pirating of ‘Black Widow’ Reportedly Cost Disney $600 Million

From the Walt Disney World News and written by: Sean Sposato

As we all know, the release of Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow” was a major hit met with very positive reviews by fans and critics everywhere. However, the film did fall victim to an extreme amount of illegal views in its opening weekend, which are said to have cost The Walt Disney Company a little over half a billion dollars.

Similar to the release of several other films during the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney released “Black Widow” simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access, which gives Disney+ subscribers the option to see the film in their living room for a one time fee of an additional $30. This new-age release model was meant to be an innovative means of sharing the film with those who were not ready to visit movie houses for fears of catching the coronavirus. However, it actually resulted in pirating of the film due to its wide release in homes across the world and a lawsuit brought on by “Black Widow” star Scarlett Johansson against Disney over lost wages.

“Following Black Widow, it was clear that day-and-date leads to a freefall at the box office in the subsequent weekend of a Marvel Cinematic Universe title; the Scarlett Johansson movie weathered the worst second-weekend drop for a Disney-distributed Marvel movie at 68%. The crimping in windows, which of course impacted the star’s bonus, led to the twice-Oscar-nominated actress suing Disney and settling for a reported $40M+,” Deadline reports, referencing the $80 million open which was followed by a second weekend take of $26.5 million.

“Adding to the further erosion of box office for any theatrical-day-and-date release on streaming is the fact that these movies are pirated promptly, with clean 4K copies in several languages spread around the world,” the Deadline report goes on. “By the end of August, sources in the know informed us that Black Widow had been pirated more than 20M times. That’s close to a $600M estimated loss on Black Widow in Disney+ PVOD revenue alone.”

Even though the film is said to have had an estimated $600 million loss, the film is also said to have accounted for 30% of the total box office haul for 2021.

What are your thoughts on these figures? Let us know in the comments!  

Sean Sposato
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