Scarlett Johansson’s tenure as Natasha Romanoff made her one of the most successful actors in Hollywood. Having played Black Widow for over 10 years, she’s amassed an impressive net worth and cemented herself as top-tier talent in the movie industry. Unfortunately, the character’s solo film hasn’t had the same success as its lead star. Following its day and date release in 2021, Black Widow experienced a freefall at the box office. The Scarlett Johansson starrer weathered the worst second-weekend drop for a Disney-distributed Marvel movie at 68%. This had a negative impact on the star’s bonus, which led to the actress suing Disney and settling for a payout of approximately $40 million. As it turns out, these weren’t the only losses Black Widow suffered.
Moreover, every movie which is released on a streaming service is promptly pirated. Clean 4K copies become available almost immediately, in several languages around the world. By the end of August, Black Widow had been pirated more than 20 million times, Deadline reports. That’s close to a $600 million estimated loss on the Scarlett Johansson movie in Disney+ PVOD revenue alone.
This happened for a few reasons, according to the publication. Disney wasn’t as generous as Warner Bros with the exhibition in its theatrical-rental terms. Despite day and date releases, and some movies going straight to streaming, the latter adhered to pre-pandemic types of terms. And Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow paid the price – literally. But it’s not entirely Disney’s fault. The company had to share an estimated 15% fee with platform providers like Google Play, Amazon Fire Stick, etc.
Setbacks aside, Black Widow was still an excellent film that just suffered at the hands of a global pandemic. Interestingly, Scarlett Johansson had some reservations about doing a Black Widow movie after Endgame. The actress wasn’t sure if the film would be creatively challenging following everything else she’d done in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Black Widow is the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and sees Scarlett Johansson return as Natasha Romanoff for the last time. Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Romanoff is forced to confront a conspiracy with dangerous ties to her past as a KGB-trained spy and assassin. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, she must come to terms with her spy history and the broken relationships she left behind long before she joined the Avengers.
The film was directed by Cate Shortland from a screenplay by Eric Pearson, Jac Schaeffer, and Ned Benson. Starring alongside Scarlett Johansson is David Harbour as Alexei (aka The Red Guardian), Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, Rachel Weisz as Melina. Joining them in the cast are O-T Fagbenle as Rick Mason, Olga Kurylenko as Antonia Dreykov / Taskmaster, William Hurt as Thaddeus Ross, and Ray Winstone as Dreykov.
With the deck stacked against its release, Black Widow still broke several pandemic box office records and earned over $379 million worldwide. The movie also received positive reviews from critics, who praised the action sequences as well as the performances from Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh. The film is currently available to stream on Disney+.