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.
“Dahmer” Series Breaks Netflix Records Amid Backlash For Exploiting Victims’ Stories
Family members of some of the murderer’s victims say the program is “retraumatizing.”
“Dahmer” Lands Successful Week on Netflix
While criticisms mount against “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” the true crime series broke Netflix’s record as the most-watched first week for a series debut.
According to data provided by the streaming giant, the Evan Peters-led show was watched for over 196 million hours between its release on Sept. 21 and Sept. 25.
“Dahmer” is the newest of several pieces of fiction and media based on the famous serial killer. Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, the series quickly generated a lot of attention online, primarily from those concerned the show is exploiting a gruesome true story.
Critics have echoed those fears, giving the show a mixed 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The “Critic’s Consensus” blurb on the site states that while the show is “seemingly self-aware of the peril in glorifying Jeffrey Dahmer” the story still “tilts this horror story into the realm of queasy exploitation.”
Victims’ Families Speak Out
The family of Errol Lindsey, one of Dahmer’s victims, has also spoken out against the series. In a viral tweet, Lindsey’s cousin Eric Perry said his family is “pissed about the show.”
“It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what?” he wrote. “How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”
In much of the promotion for the series, Netflix claimed it would be told from the perspective of the victims. Perry slammed that narrative, noting that his family was never even contacted by the streamer about the project.
“So when they say they’re doing this ‘with respect to the victims’ or ‘honoring the dignity of the families’, no one contacts them,” he wrote. “My cousins wake up every few months at this point with a bunch of calls and messages and they know there’s another Dahmer show. It’s cruel.”
Lindsey’s sister, Rita Isbell, echoed that claim in an essay she wrote for Insider, noting that Netflix did not notify her of the show, or ask her any questions about her brother.
She said that watching the show “felt like reliving it all over again.”
“It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then,” she wrote.
“It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed,” she continued.
Obsession With Dahmer
Controversy has also grown from some of the responses to the series, as many viewers have posted fan edits of the show that romanticize Dahmer. Some pair clips of Peters’ Dahmer with his victims to love songs or pop ballads, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of those who do not understand why someone would make content glorifying the killer.
Others have responded to the show by calling Dahmer “hot” or posting thirst tweets about his mug shot. This has resulted in a backlash of its own.
“Jeffrey Dahmer molested and murdered people, mostly black men and boys,” one person wrote. “So to see people making edits and thirst traps of him is a little off putting.”
“if I see anyone tweeting thirst tweets about Jeffrey Dahmer I’m immediately unfollowing,” another person said. “That’s so fuckin nasty.”
Concerns that this kind of media results in more people admiring Dahmer are also mounting in Milwaukee, where many of his crimes took place. According to TMZ, the city is considering creating something to honor the victims, but officials fear a physical memorial would turn into a “mecca” for Dahmer’s fans.
YouTube Removes Age Restriction From Nicki Minaj Video After Singer Calls Company a “Bogus Platform”
Even though her video can now be viewed by all YouTuber users, Minaj made it clear she was upset that the age-gate tanked its view count in the first 24 hours.
Nicki Minaj Vs. YouTube
Nicki Minaj called out YouTube on Monday after the platform age-restricted her new music video for “Likkle Miss Remix” featuring Skeng.
By age-restricting a video, YouTube blocks users who are under 18 or not logged into a Google account from viewing the content.
Minaj’s video features close-up shots of people in skimpy outfits twerking, but several videos on YouTube with similar imagery have not been gated. Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” video is available for everyone, as is Minaj’s own “Anaconda” video.
In a since-deleted Instagram post, Minaj accused YouTube of being inconsistent and playing favorites.
“They restricted my fucking video but have things a million fucking times worse on their BOGUS FKNG PLATFORM,” she wrote in a post that included a screenshot of YouTube’s age-restriction notice. “This is what they do to keep you from winning while doing ads for another ppl and posting fake fkng stats. Because the same ppl who run YouTube are in bed with a certain record label and mngmnt company.”
Minaj further alleged that YouTube’s actions were done to prevent her from getting a significant number of views in the video’s first 24 hours, which is often the most crucial timeframe for a video’s success. She continued to assert that the Google-owned company has a bias toward certain music labels.
YouTube Walks Back Restriction
“How long have yall been playing the numbers game to lie & pretend ppl r doing ‘good’ when they r not?!?!!” Minaj continued in another post. “How much ad space did these duds purchase to be promoted on my channel in the last 5 years?!??!!!!”
Later on Monday, YouTube removed the restriction from Minaj’s video, per Variety. The company said the content in it did not violate its rules and guidelines.
While Minaj ended up deleting her Instagram posts calling YouTube out, she made it clear she was still frustrated by the debacle.
“FUCK THEM DUDS,” she tweeted. “THEY CANT GIVE US BACK OUR FIRST 24 HOURS CAN THEY?!?!!!”
As of Monday afternoon, her video had been viewed over one million times.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (The Independent) (Billboard)
“Don’t Worry Darling” Tops the Box Office Amid Bad Press
Audiences are already giving the film higher praise than critics did.
Young Women Flock to “Don’t Worry Darling”
Weeks of controversies and rumors did not prevent “Don’t Worry Darling” from finding victory at the box office, with the Olivia Wilde-directed thriller debuting at number one over the weekend and raking in $19.2 million.
Wilde also acted in the mid-century mystery, which starrs Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, and Gemma Chan.
Women led ticket sales for the picture, comprising 66% of the audience, according to several reports. At least partially due to the appeal of Styles, crowds also skewed young, with over half under the age of 25.
Overseas, the film made over $10 million, bringing its total for the weekend to $30 million. That number is especially impressive since the R-rated drama had a budget of $35 million.
“Don’t Worry Darling” had been plagued with weeks of rumors about behind-the-scenes drama leading up to its release. Among other bouts of gossip, many online speculated that Pugh and Wilde had riffs on set, leading to Pugh’s refusal to promote the project. One report alleged the two got into a screaming match, but sources on set denied it.
Wilde and Shia LeBeouf, who was originally cast in the picture, also got into a public he-said-she-said about whether he quit the film or was fired.
The drama hit a boiling point during its premiere at the Venice Film Festival when Twitter users circulated a video they claimed showed Styles spiting on Pine, though both parties have denied that allegation.
A Film Riddled With Rumors
Furthering the bad press were the bad reviews. Critics largely panned the film, sticking it with a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. After this first weekend, moviegoers seem to have a more favorable outlook, as it has a 79% audience score as of Monday.
Jeff Goldstein, the distribution chief for Warner Bros., told the Associated Press that “the background noise” caused by these controversies “had a neutral impact” on its box office haul. The studio released a statement saying it was pleased with the movie’s earnings.
Some analysts believe that, if anything, the online gossip and fodder may have aided the film’s box office performance.
In a tweet recapping the weekend’s box office, Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore, said the “drama sparked a huge wave of interest.”