While theater owners continue to blast Disney over their decision to also release Marvel’s BLACK WIDOW on the Disney+ streaming service and in theaters simultaneously, part of their argument against the strategy is proving to be a bit true. Black Widow now has the dubious distinction of being the most pirated movie for the last two weeks.
Torrent Freak released a chart of the most pirated films of the week and Black Widow has been number one for two weeks in a row. The Tomorrow War, starring Chris Pratt, had been number one before the release of Black Widow and even its placement is very telling about the streaming release decision. The top ten most pirated films of the week feature nine movies that are on streaming services. When The Tomorrow War topped Torrent Freak it was positioned over what is arguably a bigger film in Fast 9 but that’s because films released to streaming services can be ripped in high definition and made perfectly accessible at home. Pure theatrical releases are at a much lower risk for this unless you’re happy with a blurry camera rip of the film.
Theater owners have previously come out on Disney’s decision to release Black Widow on streaming and in theaters because they believe it undercuts the film’s box office potential. While the film scored a pandemic-best $80 million opening weekend, the movie collapsed in week two by 67.8% to $25.8 million. Theater owners cited piracy as one of the concerns for the streaming release pattern and even pointed out how much Black Widow was appearing on various torrent sites in pristine condition. It’s definitely a factor but there is also more at play here.
Despite some of us touting these big opening weekends which seems to indicate the box office is back, we are still very much in the pandemic and with the Delta variant surging in certain areas, there are many people that still aren’t ready to go back to the movies. This could be why we’re having a lot of these big one-weekend success stories before the film comes back to Earth a bit in weekend two. An $80 million opening should be billed as a success, especially in this era, but perhaps some of our excitement about the box office bouncing back is a tad premature.
That’s not to say Black Widow is a failure, even with aggressive piracy. The film has grossed $251.4 million worldwide to date so far and it still has more time in theaters to pull in some cash before ending its run. The film also hasn’t set a date to open in China yet which is a huge market for these films so once that happens, there will be more overseas coins added to its box office total. There is also the $60 million Black Widow made on Disney+ during its opening weekend, which is mostly kept by Disney. They have to share around 15% with platform providers like Amazon Firestick, Apple TV+, etc but even at that percentage, Disney should be happy with the Disney+ payout. The second-weekend figures weren’t released for its Disney+ run but Samba TV has provided an update on the number of U.S. Smart TV terrestrial households that have tuned into Black Widow and it has risen to about 2 million in ten days. Last weekend, Samba TV reported that 1.1 million U.S. households bought Black Widow in its first weekend. That means an additional 900,000 households bought the film from Monday, July 12 through the movie’s second weekend ending July 18. In terms of revenue, it’s estimated that the movie has pulled in $59.98 million to date in Samba TV households. Keep in mind, it’s only Samba TV households so it’s not the whole story but it paints a picture that Black Widow is doing well during a pandemic when it can also be easily pirated online.
What are YOUR thoughts on Black Widow being the most pirated movie for the last two weeks?