The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) put Disney and Marvel Studios on blast for Black Widow’s poor box office performance. 

Taskmaster in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW, in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access. Photo by Adrienn Szabo. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

In a press release from over the weekend, the National Association of Theatre Owners specifically went after Disney and Marvel’s decision to release the film on Disney+ Premier Access the same day it released into theaters, calling this strategy a “pandemic-era artifact.”

Related: Black Widow Crashes At Box Office, Gets Smoked By LeBron James’ Weak Space Jam Movie

Black Widow had an opening weekend of $80.366 million, but had a massive drop off in its second weekend. It only earned $26.2 million. It was a 67% decline, the largest decline in Marvel Cinematic Universe history.

The organization claims that Disney and Marvel Studios are actually leaving money on the table by releasing the film on Disney+ Premier Access rather than it being released exclusively in theaters.

They claim, “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 claims the film should have had an opening weekend between $92 and $100 million and even suggest it could have gone as high as $130 million.

Related: Marvel Studios EVP Victoria Alonso Claims “You Are Leaving Money On The Table By Not Representing”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 29: Producer, President of Marvel Studios and Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Kevin Feige attends the Black Widow World Premiere Fan Event at Dolby Theatre on June 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Related: Disney And Marvel Studios Tout Black Widow Success, Reveal $60 Million Disney+ Haul

Not only does NATO claim Disney is leaving money on the table by not releasing their films exclusively in theaters, they also call into question Disney’s claim of success that the movie earned $60 million via Premier Access.

NATO notes, “Early analysis pointed at the $60 million in Premiere Access revenue and compared it to the domestic theatrical of $80 million and declared it a success, especially because Disney keeps every dollar of home release. It does not. Approximately 15% of revenue goes to the various platforms through which consumers access Disney+.”

They continue, “It 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.”

“Further, the $60 million is the global total and should be compared to the $158 million theatrical total,” NATO added.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 29: (L-R) Chairman of Disney Studios Content Alan Bergman, Producer, President of Marvel Studios and Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Kevin Feige, and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Bob Chapek attend the Black Widow World Premiere Fan Event at Dolby Theatre on June 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

NATO also notes that by releasing through Premier Access they are losing money per viewer over the film’s life. They make this point by noting the average number of people in U.S. households is 2.37 and that an average Disney+ household is more than likely larger.

The assumption is the people who paid for the film on Premier Access would have bought tickets at theaters and Disney would have made more off those individual tickets rather than the $30 flat fee for Premier Access.

(L-R): Melina (Rachel Weisz), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena (Florence Pugh) in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW, in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access. Photo by Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Related: Black Widow Spoiler-Free Review: A Waste Of Recycled Potential

Finally, NATO also blames piracy. They state, “Piracy no doubt further affected Black Widow’s performance, and will affect its future performance in international markets where it has yet to open.”

They blame Disney for this too, explaining, “Pristine digital copies become available within minutes of release on Disney+. Black Widow was the most torrented movie for the week ending July 12. https://torrentfreak.com/most-pirated-movies-of-2021/ It is also available on myriad illegal streaming sites all over the Internet.”

(L-R): Yelena (Florence Pugh), Alexei (David Harbour) and Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW, in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access. Photo by Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

NATO concluded, “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,” they added.

Related: YouTuber Nerdrotic Savages Marvel’s Black Widow, Says It’s The Second Worst Marvel Movie Ever

Yelena (Florence Pugh) in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW, in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access. Photo by Kevin Baker. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

What do you make of NATO putting on Disney and Marvel Studios on blast for their Disney+ Premier Access release of Black Widow?

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    John F. Trent
    Founder and Editor-in-Chief

    John is the Editor-in-Chief here at Bounding Into Comics. He is a massive Washington Capitals fan, lover of history, and likes to dabble in economics and philosophy.

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