Movies set a lot of records. Marvel is used to being a studio that sets all kinds of records, full of impressive figures. Their movies make the lists at the top of the box office. In 2021, with the pandemic, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow film for Marvel has been making those top lists. It broke $100 million at the box office fairly quickly and has earned impressive figures in the current box office landscape. However, it’s also surpassing other films for the most pirated movie. Amazon’s The Tomorrow War starring Chris Pratt previously held the title of the most pirated movie during pandemic times, but Scarlett Johansson has now stolen the honor for Marvel with Black Widow.
TorrentFreak.com keeps running lists of piracy numbers, attempting their best to see what the most popular downloads are. This can be a little tricky, but the numbers are some of the closest estimates around. As Scarlett Johansson’s film continues to top the list, it has edged out other films and become the most pirated movie around. This comes after news that Black Widow has set a Marvel record for the biggest drop at the box office. During opening weekend, movie theaters saw ticket sales make a drastic drop from Thursday/Friday to Saturday. Then, comparing the first weekend to the second weekend in theaters, Black Widow dropped 67.5% in sales. That’s unheard of for a Marvel movie. It was similar to the drop that F9 saw during its recent run, though.
Reportedly, the Scarlett Johansson movie is doing much better on Disney+, where it is earning the studio money. It costs $30 in addition to your regular subscription to watch a new release on the platform. While the streaming service did release numbers during its first weekend, our numbers at this point are only estimates, as Disney isn’t sharing. On torrent sites, though, Black Widow is doing quite well. What does this mean?
On one hand, the studio could take this as a compliment. It means a lot of people want to see Black Widow. This makes sense. Marvel films are part of the cultural conversation. As one of the movies everyone talks about, people want to see it to stay in the loop. But, box office figures matter for careers. It matters to Scarlett Johansson’s career, it matters to Marvel’s career, and it definitely affects movie release strategies moving forward. Right now, the top torrented movies are largely available for streaming, in fact, 9/10 are.
When a movie releases exclusively in theaters, the available pirated copies are usually terrible quality. If you want to watch the HD version, you’ll need to go to the theater. With Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, users can pirate HD versions. So why would people pay, other than moral reasons? There is an argument to be made that streaming movie releases are encouraging piracy. That argument is definitely going to be something studios look at moving forward.
In the end, though, they are mostly looking at their bottom line. How much do they figure that piracy is cutting into their bottom line? While many, many people are pirating the film, it’s hard right now to judge how much Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow would have earned in a traditional movie theater exclusive release, especially when so many people are still avoiding theaters due to the pandemic. It’s worth noting that the new Fast & Furious film also saw that huge plummet after opening weekend, and it is not one of the top ten pirated movies. It’s also a film releasing as part of a billion-dollar franchise. So how much is Black Widow losing to piracy, and how much is the pandemic? It’s hard to know. But the high piracy numbers are definitely something the studio will consider when they’re planning future releases.