The Marvel Cinematic Universe saw a massive success last year with a variety of projects coming out for Phase 4 of the franchise. Of all the projects we got to see, Black Widow was the very first in Marvel Studios’ Phase 4 plans. Disney actually worked out a means for the movie for a possible release in the midst of the pandemic. The movie actually saw some serious publicity following its release. Scarlett Johansson sued the house of the mouse for releasing the film on the Disney+ streaming platform on the day of the theater release. According to recent reports, Black Widow loses 600 Million dollars simply because of piracy.
The movie saw quite a few delays with the original date of release for the project being May 1, 2020. The film was delayed by a complete year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it saw a release date of July 9, 2021. It became a part of the very initial movies when the theaters had just reopened. People had just started going to the cinema halls and this did not help the movie with the box office numbers at all. But Black Widow managed to score the biggest opening during the pandemic period by earning $80 million domestically. The movie was simultaneously released on Disney+ and that saw an additional earning of $60 million from the streaming service.
In total, the movie made $379 million at the theatres, but it also brought in over $125 million from Disney+ Premier Access. So its total is over $500 million. But apparently, it could have gone for something over $1 billion!
Black Widow loses $600 Million Due To Piracy
According to a recent report from Deadline, releasing the movie on the Disney+ streaming platform actually led to Disney paying a heavy price. The only release allowed for some rather clean pirated copies for the movie being available online and that too in multiple languages. Sources close to Deadline have suggested that Black Widow was pirated more than 20 million times by August. If the math is done, then as the cost for the Disney+ Premier Access is $30, this project saw a loss of $600 million in its revenue.
This was one of the most controversial moves from Disney and this is exactly what led to Scarlett Johansson filing the lawsuit. Disney even had to pay her $40 million for her losses.
Since then, Disney has changed the rules for the release on the streaming service. The very next project, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings saw an online release one month after the theaters. Disney has no plans for the Disney+ Premier Access releases for the time being and the piracy numbers only lessen the chance of it happening ever again. Even WB would have learnt this lesson by now.
Deadline’s headline surely makes it seem that Black Widow could have made over $1 billion. Maybe if times were normal and the COVID pandemic did not happen, then the movie could have hit something close to that number. But let’s be honest, it was one of MCU’s biggest missed opportunities. So even if it would have come out on May 1, 2020, in theatres, I’d think that the movie would have ended up around $800 million at max. The bad word of mouth could have affected it in the second weekend and beyond.
Still, at least ScarJo got was paid her worth.