Movie theaters, although surely lagging behind many other sectors, seem to be returning to normal. This is indicated by box office data driven in the last weekend by the premiere of Black Widow, the highly anticipated film with which the Marvel Cinematic Universe returns to the big screen.
The spy adventure starring Scarlett Johansson had been delayed by the pandemic since May 2020, more than a year, and there were reasonable doubts as to whether the current situation would encourage fans to go to theaters and, perhaps even more, on whether people would pay the 29 dollars / 21.99 euros for the parallel option of being able to see its premiere on Disney Plus. Well, both have happened, and it seems that en masse despite the situation.
Official box office data confirms that Black Widow has surpassed the $ 200 million in gross in its opening weekend: 80 million in the United States and 78 internationally. A figure to which we must add about $ 60 million raised with the Disney Plus premium pass.
It is the first time that Disney shares the income data that their premium access reports to them, a risky formula that began with Mulan for pandemic needs but now, if it continues to work so well, perhaps it could stay despite the doubts that exist.
Four movies, four different results
After that, there is a change in the formulation of cinema windows that seems to be being established in one way or another, and also a greater part of the cake by not having to share Disney the cake with exhibitors and theaters -although streaming in itself also have its costs. On the contrary, the well-founded doubts that productions like this can recover the invested, or of the existence of greater piracy. It should be borne in mind that normally in a year like 2019, the last year before COVID changed cinema and so many things in life, these titles were set to make about 1,500 million at the box office.
So far Disney has tested its premium pass with four movies:
Mulan, released in September of last year and that did not go through theaters in the United States or Europe, but did in China.Raya and the last dragon: released in theaters worldwide in March but free on Disney Plus for customers in Latin America, where the service had just been launchedCruella: in cinemas with considerably more competition at the end of May this year. Black widow, which was the first film in which Disney has confirmed its internal data on collection with extra payment in Disney Plus.
Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow battles a dangerous conspiracy as she faces her worst battle yet: the past she left behind
See Black Widow on Disney Plus
The following graph shows how all these films worked both in their opening weekend and in Disney Plus, although as we have said, except for the film about the life of Nathasa Romanoff and Cruella (where there is no data yet) , the figures come from consultants that made estimates.
While Mulan was seen as a failure in the first instance, some later estimates believe that it su used a first hit on Disney Plus, getting high and up to 260 million in the best scenario. Perhaps it served to establish that at a time like this, families with children were willing to pay $ 30. In the end, far less than the cost of four people going to a movie theater with popcorn.
At what point does premium access penalize the purchase of movie tickets and vice versa for Disney itself?
Raya performed somewhat better at the box office and somewhat less in Premium, surely due to the improvement in the health situation at that time, but the Emma Stone’s Cruella, for now, has a bumpy face on both windows. Although it has most of its premium tour left on the platform, in its first weekend it only raised $ 39 million, being surpassed by A Quiet Place 2.
Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Then Cruella would get 217 million in total in its passage in theaters, which is still in a few theaters (the least). It is difficult to interpret because its second weekend had the same figures as the first practically, which could be attributed to other premieres and the public’s confidence when it comes to going to theaters. But it also leaves us another reading … At what point does premium access penalize the purchase of movie tickets and vice versa for Disney itself?
Hybrid windows seem to be here to stay
The games that Disney has been doing so far to surf the health situation and boost its platform seem to have turned out well … but not for theaters, of course. Formulas such as transferring Soul or Luca directly to streaming boosted his platform, which has surpassed 100 million subscribers in just over a year.
To this is added decisions such as the one taken with Nomadland, Chloé Zhao’s best picture Oscar-winning film, which went to Disney Plus after just five weeks in theaters.
But shortening theatrical show also drastically disrupts the industry-wide method of revenue distribution. The rooms, although it changes according to markets, used to stay at the beginning of the exhibition of ua movie with 60% of the income it made. As one moves to other windows (digital rental, DVD, cable television, free-to-air TV, or digital subscription) the percentage of income for the distributor is higher.
Until not long ago – a pandemic through – digital distribution under subscription used to be the last, but it has advanced positions strongly due to the situation. And Disney is taking advantage of it. Both when it transfers the rights to broadcast on other platforms – where it keeps 80%, as if it were in DVD format – and in the case of its own (Disney Plus), where it practically only has to bear management costs. In a nutshell, releasing a movie of your property on Disney Plus has hardly any costs. Of course, it also loses opportunities.
Date of high on Disney Plus now and save thanks to the annual subscription, with which you can enjoy its entire catalog of series and movies. It includes unlimited access to all premieres already Star. You will also be able to see the content of Marvel and Star Wars and the great Pixar animated films.
Because the cinema also serves as a catalyst for the rest of the windows. Little can now feed the sale of DVD or offer the rights to broadcast on free television when a movie is already on Disney Plus.
This is especially relevant in the case of Disney, which in 2019, the last pre-COVID year, starred in the top-10 box office premieres and had the highest grossing movie of all time in Endgame.
Disney’s position: movie theaters yes, but enhancing Disney Plus
That is why perhaps the CEO of Disney, Bob Chapek, tried in December to emphasize that the cinema window will always remain there. “We had a $ 13 billion box office last year (2019), and that’s not something to overlook.”
Chapek has since been more open when it comes to signaling a change in trend. “The consumer is probably more impatient than they have ever been, especially since they have now allowed themselves the luxury of having titles at home practically when they want them,” he said at a conference on media and technology organized by Morgan Stanley. “I’m not sure there is going back.”
The consumer is probably more impatient than they have ever been, especially since they have now allowed themselves the luxury of having titles at home practically when they want them
Bob Chapek, CEO of Disney
“Of course, we don’t want to do anything like cutting off the legs of a theatrical display. But the old approach, where a movie could be outside of theaters and still not be available for viewing at home, It is no longer viable ”, he opined.
I said, shortening the time between windows, it seems that it will be the new norm. The question remains how many weeks will they remain exclusively in theaters when normalcy returns.
The obvious with Black Widow
“It’s amazing to see audiences enjoying Black Widow after two years without a new Marvel Studios movie, and this spectacular opening weekend shows how excited fans were to see this beloved Avenger in her own story,” he commented. Alan Bergman, President of Content for Disney Studios on Unveiling Black Widow’s Great Box Office Facts and Premium Pass
As one of the clearest examples yet that the Marvel brand is a unique attraction for movie theaters, Black Widow looks set to not only dominate the box office this weekend, but also to outperform several blockbuster movies that were released before the pandemic.
It has a clear path to becoming the highest grossing of the pandemic era, easily beating the record set by the Fast and Furious sequel, F9, last month.
Black Widow, with better data than Doctor Strange or Spider-man: Homecoming
The Romanoff movie is outpacing anticipated ticket sales of all other 2021 movies, according to ticketing website Fandango, as well as pre-pandemic Marvel movies. Doctor Strange and Spider-Man: Homecoming, two of the most recent films in the franchise that grossed $ 85 million and $ 117 million on their opening weekends, respectively.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has remained relevant throughout the pandemic thanks to its original series on Disney Plus. WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki (currently on air) have helped the service skyrocket to more than 100 million global subscribers in its first year. Even so, Disney has insisted that it is committed to theaters, and plans to continue releasing Marvel films in theaters. But for now, the hybrid premiere formula is working for them too. We’ll see what happens with upcoming releases.