Black Widow lost an estimated $600M because of piracy

By Stephen Ippolito | January 5th, 2022

It has been revealed that Disney’s decision last July to release Black Widow on Disney+’s Premier Access cost the company a lot of money. According to Deadline, releasing the Marvel Studios film on the streamer the same day it hit theaters, resulted in it being pirated more than 20M times, translating to a $600M loss.

Adding to the further erosion of box office for any theatrical-day-and-date release on streaming is the fact that these movies are pirated promptly, with clean 4K copies in several languages spread around the world. By the end of August, sources in the know informed us that Black Widow had been pirated more than 20M times. That’s close to a $600M estimated loss on Black Widow in Disney+ PVOD revenue alone.


The decision also ended up hurting it at the box office. Of the four MCU films released in 2021, Black Widow earned the least amount of money worldwide ($379.6M). This of course, famously led to the film’s star Scarlett Johansson suing the company.

Following Black Widow, it was clear that day-and-date leads to a freefall at the box office in the subsequent weekend of a Marvel Cinematic Universe title; the Scarlett Johansson movie weathered the worst second-weekend drop for a Disney-distributed Marvel movie at 68%. The crimping in windows, which of course impacted the star’s bonus, led to the twice-Oscar-nominated actress suing Disney and settling for a reported $40M+.


Thankfully, not only did Johansson and Disney settle the lawsuit, but in November it was revealed by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige that she would return to produce a future “top secret” MCU project. Feige also said that it would be unrelated to Black Widow.

Disney hasn’t done any more Premier Access releases since Jungle Cruise (July 30th, 2021), nor does it have any scheduled for 2022. Judging by the financial burden it caused, it’s probably safe to say it will be a while, if ever, that they do it again.

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