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Black Widow: Online Movie Piracy Is Costing Disney Over $600 Million

According to Deadline, the worldwide release of Black Widow in cinemas and on Disney+ resulted in a dramatic decline in box office revenue, which plummeted 68 percent in its second weekend. In the same manner, it was stated that day-and-date releases of any movie are being pirated at an alarming pace, with Black Widow having been copied over 20 million times by August 2021. Even though the movie is accessible on Disney+ Premier Access for $30, these factors cost Disney almost $600 million in streaming income alone.

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Scarlett Johansson, the film’s star, sued Disney over the film’s day-and-date distribution, claiming that the firm broke the actor’s contract with the release of the movie, costing her almost $50 million. The lawsuit was eventually resolved, allegedly for more than $40 million. This happened after months of back and forth between Johansson and Disney following the Marvel star’s July lawsuit about the launch of what would be her ninth and last movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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The lawsuit, submitted against Disney in Los Angeles Superior Court, claimed that the movie release method was a clear violation of Johansson’s contract, claiming that Disney and Marvel Entertainment promised an exclusive cinema release for Black Widow and that part of Johansson’s payment would be based on the movie’s box office performance, which was hindered due to its publication on Disney+ Premier Access. The complaint alleged that Johansson lost more than $50 million in sales.

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“I am happy to have resolved our differences with Disney,” said Johansson at the time of the settlement. “I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done together over the years and have greatly enjoyed my creative relationship with the team. I look forward to continuing our collaboration in years to come.”

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During an earnings report, Disney CEO Bob Chapek justified Black Widow’s release plan, citing the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic as a primary cause. The flick has grossed $379 million at the international ticket sales, and in an unusual situation, Disney disclosed Black Widow’s opening weekend streaming data in July, indicating the film had earned $60 million internationally from purchases on Disney+ Premier Access. Furthermore, the box office performance of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was considered in Johansson and Disney’s agreement, as the film earned $94.7 million in its first four days of release, outperformed Black Widow’s opening revenues, and broke the all-time Labor Day weekend sales record.

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Despite the financial loss, Chapek revealed in November that Disney is still aiming to release several movies for day-and-date in 2022. “We’re sticking with our plan of flexibility,” he stated on Disney’s fourth-quarter earnings call. “We’re still unsure in terms of how the marketplace is going to react when family films come back with a theatrical first window.”

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