Theater Owners Argue Disney’s Dual Release Strategy Tanked “Black Widow”
The National Association of Theater Owners believes the Marvel film would have fared better at the box office if it were not also available on Disney+ Premier Access.
Theater Owners Slam Disney
The National Association of Theater Owners wrote a statement on Sunday accusing Disney’s dual release model of tanking the box office haul for “Black Widow.”
The Marvel film shattered pandemic records last week when it opened to $80 million in its opening weekend, also earning another $78 million internationally. In its second weekend, however, “Black Widow” fell hard, earning just $26.3 million domestically.
The action-packed picture was also released on Disney+ Premier Access for a $30 fee, where it made $60 million in its first weekend. NATO argued that by making the film available on streaming, Disney killed its chances of making more money in theaters.
The group argued that if you compare “Black Widow” to other Marvel films or “successful” pandemic releases like “F9” and “A Quiet Place Part II,” it should have had a stronger opening weekend. Based on opening day to weekend ratios, NATO said the Natasha Romanoff prequel should have made anywhere between $92 million to $100 million. Based on its preview revenue, NATO says it could have made even more, potentially scoring an opening weekend between $97 million to $130 million.
“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 wrote.
The War on Theatrical Releases
Ever since the pandemic began, theaters and studios have been at odds about new dual streaming release models. Studios felt they had no choice but to throw their titles on streaming services as theaters were shuttered for nearly a year, but exhibitors were relying on studios to wait until movies could make money via theatrical runs.
At one point in 2020, AMC and Regal Cinemas vowed to not show Universal titles after the studio said it would put all its titles on Video on Demand the same day they came out in theaters. The theaters ended up walking the choice back, and Universal also let up and opted to release its biggest blockbuster, “F9” exclusively in theaters.
Still, studios have remained somewhat cozy with the idea to put their movies on their respective streaming platforms. In 2021, even as the U.S. was on the verge of reopening, Warner Bros. said it would release all its titles for the year on HBO Max the same day they hit the big screen. Warner Bros. received a considerable amount of backlash and it appears the studio will not continue the plan into 2022, but the temptation remains for many others.
NATO Argues Theatrical Releases Are More Lucrative
NATO also argued that these direct to VOD models are not as lucrative as some analysts claim they are. Studios generally have to split box office revenues 50/50 with theaters, though some major studios like Disney might be able to snag a better deal. Many have stated that when Disney takes a title and puts it up for purchase on Disney+ Premier Access, they get to keep all the cash, but NATO says this is not the case.
“Approximately 15% of revenue goes to the various platforms through which consumers access Disney+,” the statement said. “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.”
NATO also said this strategy “costs Disney money in revenue per viewer over the life of the film” because it is unclear how many people are watching the titles on streaming. It’s also hard to know how many people might share the password to a single Disney+ account, meaning that the $30 fee could be split up across a lot of viewers.
The other risk that comes with streaming releases is piracy, as it is much easier for someone to make a digital copy of a film they are simply watching on their computer. NATO addressed this in its statement, noting that copies of the film became available quickly after “Black Widow” made its way to Disney+, and it ended up being the most torrented film the week of July 12. NATO claimed the same thing happened with other films that had simultaneous releases like “Cruella” and “Wonder Woman 1984,” but not with films that got exclusive theatrical releases like “F9” and “A Quiet Place Part II.”
“Simultaneous release is a pandemic-era artifact that should be left to history with the pandemic itself,” the statement concluded.
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Variety) (The Wrap)
Max to Agrees to “Properly” Credit Writers and Directors After Facing Backlash For Lumping Them in As “Creators”
The company said the credits were laid out incorrectly due to “an oversight in the technical transition from HBO Max to Max.”
After film and television writers slammed Max for crediting all writers, producers, and directors as general “creators” on its platform, the company said it will be adjusting its credits display.
“We agree that the talent behind the content on Max deserve their work to be properly recognized,” the streaming service said in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
Max — the new rebrand of HBO Max that incorporates Discovery content — launched on Tuesday to much criticism. Amid glitches and app-switching confusion, the biggest backlash it faced was over the choice to lump creative roles into one credit section called “creators.” As one viral tweet noted, if a user were to select the film “Raging Bull,” the service’s display would not specifically credit Martin Scorsese as the director, rather, his name would be included at random with half a dozen other people, including writers and producers.
The decision was condemned by many in the industry who argued it minimizes writers and directors by not properly giving them credit where it is due. Especially amid the ongoing writers’ strike, and with directors and actors starting negotiations with studios, some took it as a slap in the face.
“The studios don’t want anyone to know our names,” writer Christina Strain tweeted. “It’s easier to pay us nothing if we’re faceless.”
“Another move from studios to diminish the role of writers, directors, actors and other craftspeople. Miss me wit this nonsense,” Jorge Rivera, the Vice-Chair of the Writers Guild’s Latinx Writers Committee, added.
In a statement, Directors Guild President Lesli Linka Glatter said that Warner Bros. Discovery’s choice to “collapse” these roles into one credit “while we are in negotiations with them is a grave insult to our members and our union.”
“The DGA will not stand for it,” Glatter continued.
WGA West President Meredith Stiehm claimed the move was “a credits violation,” as well as an insult “to the artists that make the films and TV shows that make their corporation billions.”
On Wednesday, Max said it would rework its crediting.
“We will correct the credits, which were altered due to an oversight in the technical transition from HBO Max to Max and we apologize for this mistake,” the platform said.
See what others are saying: (Gizmodo) (The Hollywood Reporter) (The Los Angeles Times)
A Quarter of Young British Men Support Andrew Tate’s Thoughts on Women
U.K. residents at large, however, do not view him favorably.
Even under house arrest in Romania, misogynist influencer Andrew Tate still holds substantial sway over young men.
According to data from YouGov that was obtained by The Independent, 26% of U.K. men between 18 and 29 years old who know of Tate agree with his views on women. That figure was largely the same for men between 30 and 39, as 28% agreed with Tate’s opinions on the subject.
Men in their 30s were slightly more likely to agree with Tate on his thoughts about masculinity. Three out of ten supported those views, compared to just a quarter of men 18 to 29.
Those statistics only include the thoughts of men who have heard of Tate, but per YouGov, most have. In the 18 to 29 group, 93% were familiar with him, and 86% of men in their 30s knew of him.
The U.K. at large was less aware of Tate, with just 63% of British adults having heard of him. Of that group, only 6% held a positive view of him.
Tate has faced substantial backlash for his sexist rhetoric over the years. In the past, he said that men should have “authority” over their wives or girlfriends, and that women should “bear some responsibility” for being raped. He was previously banned from Twitter over his extremist views on women but has since been allowed back on the platform.
He is currently being investigated in Romania for organized crime and human trafficking. He was arrested and held in custody in December but was released to house arrest earlier this year. No formal charges have been filed against him yet and he has maintained his innocence.
Tate currently boasts a Twitter following of 6.7 million. It has grown significantly since he was enveloped in legal controversy, and many of his supporters have demanded his release.
See what others are saying: (The Independent) (Glamour U.K.)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Involved in “Near Catastrophic” Paparazzi Chase
“While being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the cost of anyone’s safety,” a spokesperson for the couple said.
“Aggressive” Paparazzi Chase Couple in New York
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were involved in a “near catastrophic” paparazzi car chase Tuesday night in New York City, according to a spokesperson for the couple.
In a statement, the spokesperson described the photographers as “highly aggressive.”
“While being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the cost of anyone’s safety,” the statement added.
“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers,” it continued.
Details of the incident are still emerging, but BBC News reported that there are claims the chase involved roughly six cars driving recklessly by running red lights, driving on the sidewalk, carrying out blocking moves, going backward on a one-way road, and taking pictures while driving.
The chase happened after Harry and Meghan were leaving the Women of Vision Awards with Meghan’s mother, Doria. They did not want photographers to learn where they were staying and attempted to avoid them in what turned into a 75-minute chase on a main road in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. They eventually ducked into a New York Police Department Precinct to hide out before getting into a different vehicle.
The NYPD released a statement confirming that they assisted in protecting the couple as “numerous photographers” hindered their transport. Officials said they made it to their destination and there were no collisions, injuries, or arrests.
The couple’s spokesperson is asking the public to not share or post footage of the incident.
“Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all in involved,” the spokesperson said.
Memories of Princess Diana
The chase evokes the brutal press hounding Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, was subjected to throughout her life. The paparazzi’s obsession with her ultimately resulted in her death in 1997, when she was killed in a car crash after being chased by photographers in Paris.
Since marrying Meghan and later bowing out of the Royal Family, Harry has made it explicitly clear that he fears those events could happen again. Meghan has been the subject of endless tabloid scrutiny, enduring racism and harassment from the press. Part of the reason they left the Royal Family was to keep their family protected from such attacks.
Mayor Eric Adams brought up Diana’s tragic passing while speaking about Tuesday night’s chase.
“I don’t think there’s many of us who don’t recall how [Harry’s] mom died,” Adams said while speaking to reporters. “And it would be horrific to lose an innocent bystander during a chase like this and something to have happened to them as well…I think that was a bit reckless and irresponsible.”
Adams also questioned whether or not he believes a chase could go on for two hours in a city as congested as New York, but noted that even a 10-minute chase would be dangerous. He said he will be briefed on the exact timeline and details later.