Black Widow Movie Lawsuit, Comes Early to Digital

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Changing times means needing to reconsider traditional operating methods. Stars of big Hollywood movies often have profit participation deals, where they get more money the more a movie makes. We may find out much more about how this works with the Disney/Marvel movies, as Scarlett Johansson has sued due to Disney decision to release Black Widow simultaneously in theaters and online through Disney+, which is blamed for a disappointing box office take.

According to The Guardian, the movie, which launched July 9, “opened strong with $80m in the US but suffered the steepest second week decline of any entry within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, dropping 67%.” That’s not surprising. I don’t know of many people willing to go back to theaters yet, with rising COVID rates again. And frankly, this was the first Marvel movie I was not planning to rush out to see, as it was too little, too late. The character should have had a feature film a decade ago.

The movie so far has made $319 million, which sounds great until you realize that the expectations for movies in this series are astronomical. One hopes that world uncertainty under a global pandemic causing lower box-office takes doesn’t affect how producers see female-led action movies.

Warner’s been doing the same thing, by the way, simul-releasing movies in theaters and on their streaming service, HBO Max, and it’s why I keep subscribing in spite of that being the most expensive streaming service monthly. I recall that Warner renegotiated its deals with Wonder Woman 1984 star Gal Godot and director Patty Jenkins to avoid this kind of problem. Unlike Warner, Disney charges an additional $30 to their subscribers to see a new release.

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Disney is also changing up another long-standing way of doing things, making Black Widow available on home video much earlier than standard. It used to be that there was a 90-day window between release date and home video, at the shortest, in order to not annoy theater owners. However, Disney has announced that Black Widow will be available on digital August 10 and on Blu-ray and DVD September 14.

Extras include bloopers, nine deleted scenes, a short where “director Cate Shortland introduces the film and her vision for it”, a featurette where “Scarlett and Florence [Pugh] train, fight, and bond” called “Sisters Gonna Work It Out”, and one called “Go Big If You’re Going Home” about shooting around the world, the stunts, and the “mind-blowing action”. I don’t find these particularly compelling, myself. And by the way, the phrase “the first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe” makes me roll my eyes and sigh.

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