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'Black Widow' Premiere Access Debut Actually a Flop, Theater Owners Group Declares

Marvel's 'Black Widow'
(Image credit: Disney)

A week ago, Disney declared the simultaneous premiere of Marvel movie Black Widow in theaters and on Disney Plus Premiere Access streaming as "incredible."

A high-profile analysts called it a "watershed moment" which would forever diminish the leverage of theater chains, while this humble digital trade journal lauded Disney for its transparency in revealing the $60 million Premiere Access debut figure. 

But after a precipitous week two revenue drop, during which the Scarlett Johansson superhero film saw its weekend North American theatrical gross decline from $80.4 million in its first weekend to just $26.3 million, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) put out a scathing press release, attempting to rewrite the Black Widow dual-platform business narrative entirely. 

"Black Widow’s excellent reviews, positive word of mouth, and strong previews and opening day total ($13.2 million/$39.5 million) led to a surprising 41% second day drop, a weaker than expected opening weekend, and a stunning second weekend collapse in theatrical revenues. Why did such a well-made, well-received, highly anticipated movie underperform?," NATO asked. 

Based on earlier domestic box office performances by Paramount's A Quiet Place 2 and Universal's F9, Black Widow should have opened to around $92 million -$100 million, NATO contended.

The lobbying group also took aim at conventional wisdom that Disney kept far more of every dollar spent in Premiere Access, which requires Disney Plus users to pay a $30 one-time premium to see the film, beyond their $6.99-a-month subscription bill. 

"Approximately 15% of revenue goes to the various platforms through which consumers access Disney Plus," NATO said. 

And the contention also "ignores that Premiere Access revenue is not new-found money, but was pulled forward from a more traditional PVOD window, which is no longer an option."

NATO also asked, "How much password sharing is there among Disney Plus subscribers?," while noting that Black Widow was the most "torrented" movie title of last week.